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Low Milk Supply And Your Next Baby

Preparing For Your Next Baby When You Have Struggled With Low Milk Supply In The Past

If you have struggled with low milk supply with one or more previous babies, you probably know there is a good chance you might have low milk supply problems with your next baby. Rather than hope for the best, take maters into your own hands so that breastfeeding can get off to the best start possible. This article is all about what you can do to ensure breastfeeding success for your next child.

Before Baby Is Born

The first step is to review the 27 causes of low milk supply. If your low milk supply is caused by any of these, the fix can be fairly easy and quick. If hyperthyroidism was the cause, your doctor can treat it with medication throughout your pregnancy. If inverted nipples was the cause, you can use the Avent Niplette. Or if PCOS was the cause, your doctor can prescribe metformin.

There are many, many more causes of low milk supply and information about how to fix them is in the linked article above.

Next, if you took herbs to increase your milk supply with an earlier child, you should consider planting an herb garden of those herbs you took last time. The best herbs are often those you grow yourself because you have complete control over the soil, planting, fertilizing and harvesting. If you’re not due for 2 or more months, consider starting your own personal lactation herbal garden or if gardening is not your thing, order an herbal blend, such as Lactiful Supply Max, so it is on hand.

?Once you’re pregnant with your next child and have reviewed the causes of low milk supply and considered starting your own herb garden, it’s time to be proactive and take herbs that help prepare your milk supply. Here are the herbs that will get your supply off to the best start:

Alfalfa
Use: General milk increase
Contraindications: Lupus and other autoimmune disorders
Sources: Health food stores, online

Saw Palmetto
Use: Hormone balancing, increase breast tissue
Contraindications: None
Sources: Some health food stores, online

Goat’s Rue
Use: General milk increase, glandular tissue generation
Contraindications: Diabetics
Sources: Some health food stores, online

In the second and third trimesters take Alfalfa and Saw Palmetto:

Alfalfa – Take 1 tablet (500 Mg) three times a day with meals.
Saw Palmetto – Take 1 capsule (540 Mg) in the morning and 1 capsule at night.

In the third trimester also take Goat’s Rue.

Goat’s Rue – Take 1 capsule (500 mg) 4 times per day but with only a small amount of water (1 to 2 ounces). Additionally, avoid all liquids 20 minutes before and after each dose.

Next, prepare your home, your mind and your life for your new baby. Are there any home projects you should finish before baby arrives? Getting any projects done before baby arrives will give you more time to breastfeed the new baby. Preparing and freezing meals reduces stress and workload after baby arrives.

If you work, are you able to bank up hours at work and extend your maternity leave? Can you set up a work-from-home agreement with your employer and have more time to spend with baby?

If you have a pump, consider if you need to buy a new one. Often suction power decreases after a year of average use. If you don’t own a pump, perhaps now is a good time to purchase one.

Once you reach week 36 in your pregnancy, begin pumping once a day for 10 minutes (as long as this is okay with your health care provider). Each week add a new 10 minute pumping session. Spread out the sessions as much as you can. For instance in week 38 pump once in the morning and once at night. In week 39 pump morning, afternoon and night. Don’t worry if no milk is expressed during these pumping sessions. The purpose of this pre-birth pumping is not to generate milk but to stimulate the breasts and let them know it’s almost showtime. Early stimulation increases the number of breastfeeding hormone receptors that are established which sets your milk production ceiling or maximum milk production. We want your maximum milk production set as high as possible.

After Baby Is Born

Once baby is born breastfeed as soon as possible. Within 30 minutes is ideal, but it should be no more than an hour. Put this in your birth plan so your medical team knows your wishes.

Be sure to breastfeed every time baby cries and let no more than 3 hours pass from the start of one breastfeeding session to the start of the next. Treat 3 hours as the maximum allowed time between the start of one session and the start of the next, even if you have to wake baby. Better yet, aim to breastfeed every 2 to 2 and a half hours to better your chances of maximizing your milk supply. Continue this strategy until baby is at least 6 weeks old.

Every time you breastfeed be sure baby breastfeeds on both breasts. Alternate which side you start on with each nursing. Aim for 10 minutes of active nursing before switching to the other side. Tickle baby’s cheeks and toes to keep him alert and really actively nursing for a minimum of 10 minutes, then switch to the other side (if baby is still actively nursing continue to nurse on the same side until baby settles into comfort sucking – do not automatically switch at 10 minutes – that’s a minimum, not a maximum). See our article on not allowing a sleepy baby to leave milk in your breasts for tips to encourage a sleepy baby to breastfeed actively.

After each time you breastfeed, pump for 7 minutes on each side or until milk stops flowing.

On day four, begin taking your herbal supplement. You may wish to start with a lower than recommended dose and build up to a full dose over the course of a week so that you can gently ease your body into the herbs.

If you suffer from engorgement when your milk comes in do not use cabbage leaves to relieve the symptoms as this can also reduce your milk supply.

And finally, see our article index for many, many helpful articles about low milk supply, pumping and breastfeeding.

The good news is that breastfeeding and milk supply generally get better with each successive child. That coupled with these recommended preparations are sure to give you a much better breastfeeding experience with your new baby! Best of luck to you and your family and congratulations on your pregnancy!

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Foods That Decrease Breast Milk

There are several foods, herbs and substances that decrease breast milk supply. Have you had a significant amount of one or more of these recently? If so, stop and watch your milk supply return.

  • Sage – more than 1 tbsp. per day.
  • Parsley – more than ½ cup per day.
  • Mint (particularly peppermint) – Frequent brushing with toothpaste containing real mint oil; more than 2 strong mints like Altoids per day, more than 1 regular-size candy cane per day.
  • Fish Oil – some women have found that this may affect milk supply; more than 1 capsule per day. Test switching to Flaxseed Oil as your Omega 3 supplement.
  • Excessive Water – more than ½ gallon per day. Too much water will throw off your electrolytes which can affect milk production. Drink periodically throughout the day and whenever you are thirsty and keep your pee light yellow in color.
  • Alcohol – more than 1 drink per day.
  • Smoking – any amount. Smoking lowers your Prolactin (milk-making hormone) levels. Moreover it, reduces the amount of fat content in your milk – so baby doesn’t gain as much weight as he normally would.
  • Medication – Pseudoephedrine which is found in most allergy or cold medications, such as Sudafed. Buproprion which is found in Wellbutrin and Zyban.
  • Caffeine – affects women and their babies differently. Experiment to see if it is affecting your milk supply.

These foods that decrease breast milk should be avoided above the quantities shown.

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4 Common Mistakes That Lead To Low Milk Supply

There are several common mistakes that moms make that reduce the number of feedings or leaves milk in the breasts, both of which will result in lower milk supply. They are:

  • Feeding on a Schedule
  • Giving a relief bottle at night or skipping night time feedings
  • Allowing a sleepy baby to leave milk in your breasts
  • Not nursing or pumping when your breasts don’t feel full

Feeding On A Schedule

A rigid feeding schedule will often lead to low supply because a mother’s body doesn’t work like a clock – it doesn’t produce milk at a constant rate throughout the day.

A mother’s body typically produces more milk in the morning, and less as the day goes on. This is normal. Therefore, as evening nears it’s normal for baby to ask for more frequent feedings. Often times mothers make the mistake of thinking – he just breastfed, it can’t be that – and will fail to offer the breast again, when really baby is compensating for less milk being available by breastfeeding more often. Often times also, babies will do what is called “cluster feeding” to “tank up” for a longer sleep cycle. Whenever baby is fussy, offer the breast. Even if he only nurses for a few minutes, this is good stimulation for your breasts and may be giving baby exactly what he needs.

Giving A Relief Bottle At Night Or Skipping Night Time Feedings

Some very helpful daddies will offer to take on the role of nighttime feeder and give relief bottles so mom can get a full night’s rest. A full night’s rest is terrific, but you have to remember the number one reason for low milk supply is not breastfeeding often enough. When you go a whole night without removing any milk, it tells your body that it’s overproducing and milk production will get cut.

The only way to avoid that terrible outcome and still have daddy give a night time relief bottle is to pump the same amount of milk that baby is consuming at the same ?time he is taking the bottle – in the middle of the night! At that point you and dad are both up, so dad will be tired and less helpful to you the next day. Furthermore baby may become confused by artificial bottle nipples and flow differences which will only create more breastfeeding challenges. In short, if you and dad are both up in the night, it defeats the purpose of a relief bottle and may just confuse baby.

Tips for nighttime feedings:

  • Try not to resent needing to get up with your little one. Perhaps try to think of this temporary time, as a gift you give to your baby. Interestingly, mother’s who fight nighttime feedings tend to feel more tired in the morning than those who give themselves over to this short term need.
  • Keep an early bedtime for yourself.
  • Experiment. Some mothers find that they feel more rested if they just bring baby to bed with them and nurse while side-lying, and just sleep while baby nurses. On the other hand, some mothers find they are not able to allow themselves to get into a deep sleep or get truly comfortable with baby in bed with them, and they find it better to get up and be fully awake and ensure that baby is actively nursing the entire time, and then return to bed after nursing is done.

Try both and see which works best for you. Please note however, if baby has had any difficulty with latching on, or is having difficulty with weight gain, it is highly recommended that you sit fully upright and try to stay awake for the duration of the nursing session and ensure that baby maintains a proper latch for the entire time. Side-lying nursing can be difficult to get a proper latch, and if you are drifting to sleep it is easy for baby to slip the latch. This is important if you’ve struggled with latch issues because baby may again get used to the feeling of a poor latch. Also, for weight gain, it is important to ensure that baby is actively nursing, and to use hand compressions at every opportunity.

Allowing A Sleepy Baby To Leave Milk In Your Breasts

You may have heard the saying, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” Although it may be tempting to let your little bundle of joy sleep for long stretches, it is very important to wake them up at least every three hours to nurse. I know, because with my first, I didn’t do this. He was so colicky and hard to get back to sleep that there was no way I was going to wake him up and face the crying again. Little did I know that if I had woken him up it would have improved his mood and his health.

With my second child, I did things differently. I woke her up diligently every 3 hours without fail and she hit all of her milestones. She was such a happy, healthy little baby. Sometimes it is almost impossible to wake up a sleeping baby for frequent breastfeeding. Here?s some specific things you can try to get more active participation from babies who sleep a lot, or are mellow about nursing:

Do a diaper change: Even if baby doesn’t need one – getting baby completely naked wakes baby up and it goes hand-in-hand with the next suggestion. Be sure baby is good and awake before starting to nurse, otherwise slumber will just settle right back in.

Skin-to-skin time: Undress your baby down to the diaper before nursing and go braless (wear a button-down shirt that can be fully unbuttoned). This wakes up and energizes your baby for a good nursing session.

Play games: Stimulate baby to stay awake by tickling toes, feet and face and playing with him. Some babies can get distracted by this, but most will smile or giggle and latch back on to continue nursing. It can be a lot of fun and can help baby to more actively participate in nursing.

When all else fails to wake baby: Please don’t think I’m cruel! Get a wash cloth wet with cool water, and rub it on the back of baby’s neck – he won’t like it, but this trick works almost every time.

Once baby is good and wake, be sure he is removing as much milk as possible by:

Switch nursing: Start on one side and carefully watch for when your baby goes from feeding to comfort sucking. When you suspect comfort sucking, take your baby off and put him on the other side. Again watch for the switch to comfort sucking then switch back to the first side. Watch again and switch to the second side to finish up. It?s helpful to burp baby or change the diaper between switches to help wake baby up.

Double nursing: Instead of switch nursing you can try double nursing. To double nurse, feed your baby like usual on both sides without letting him or her fall asleep. Then walk about with your baby upright for 10 minutes to get all the bubbles and burps out to make room for more milk. Then nurse your baby again on both sides before letting him drift off to sleep.

Not Nursing Or Pumping If Your Breasts Don’t Feel Full

When it has been a long time since milk has been removed, the breasts become fuller and concentrations of a whey protein called “feedback inhibitor of lactation” or FIL increase. The higher the level of FIL, the lower the level of milk production.

An engorged breast generally equals a high concentration of FIL, and therefore can lead very quickly from an oversupply, to an undersupply. Do not wait to nurse or pump until your breasts “feel full.” Also, for many women this “full feeling” goes away as their baby grows, so do not use the fullness of your breasts as an indicator of when to nurse or pump.

Avoid these 4 common mistakes that lead to low milk supply and you are that much more likely to have a successful breastfeeding relationship!

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27 Causes of Low Milk Supply

There are two types of causes of low milk supply. Either a woman had a good milk supply that has dropped or she never had good supply to begin with. Lactiful has written a series of articles covering each type. First let’s start the first group of causes of low milk supply (good supply that dropped). Feel free to skip or skim this section if it doesn’t apply to you.

Causes of low milk supply: When a good supply drops.

If you’re a mom who had a good supply that has been tapering off gradually or took a dramatic turn for the worse this section is for you. The good news is that there is probably something that caused the drop in milk supply and once that something is discovered it should be fairly straight forward to get your supply back up!

What follows is a potpourri of common problems that derail milk supply. It’s likely that one of these will have affected you and if so, you’ll have that, “Ah-Ha” moment, where you realize, “That’s what happened!” However if none of these common problems strikes a cord with you, all is not lost. You can use your newfound understanding of the kinds of things that derail milk supply to diagnose what happened around the time when your supply dropped.

Causes of low milk supply: Never started with a good supply.

The previous section covered moms who had a good milk supply that suddenly dropped. This section covers moms who never started with a good supply.

Mom’s like me.

I hemorrhaged badly with the birth of my first child and the resulting blood loss set me up for low milk supply right from the beginning. It was a tough uphill climb but I eventually got my supply where it needed to be and successfully nursed my little boy until he was 2 years old.

Milk supply that starts off low is often difficult to correct and sometimes impossible to correct. In those cases where supply issues can’t be corrected, take heart, you can still have a good nursing relationship. See our article for coping with chronic low milk supply [LINK COMING SOON].

If your milk supply issue is correctable, it may be a long and difficult road and it’ll require equal measures of courage and patience. I’m sure you’ll agree that the rewards of giving your baby the best start in life are worth the effort! Let’s get started.

What Else?

If your milk supply had been good but has recently dropped and none of the above scenarios seem to fit, try to think what was occurring around the time when your supply dropped. Sometimes the answer is as simple as a growth spurt. A baby that is breastfeeding all the time and complaining that he’s not getting enough milk can make any mother feel like she has low milk supply, but in reality, baby wants as many calories as he can get.

If you can’t think of any reason for your recent drop in milk supply, the best thing is to treat the low milk supply directly. See our article on the 11 ways to increase milk supply.