Last updated on May 7th, 2020
Posted on 18 Comments

4 Common Breastfeeding Mistakes That Lead To Low Milk Supply

Breastfeeding is Hard Enough, Be Sure to Avoid These Breastfeeding Mistakes that can Quickly Affect Your Milk Supply!

There are several common breastfeeding mistakes that moms make that reduce the number of feedings or end up leaving milk in the breasts, both of which will result in lower milk supply.

The 4 Most Common Breastfeeding Mistakes 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

Let’s go into all of these in detail, and what to do if you’ve made any of these breastfeeding mistakes.

Breastfeeding Mistake #1 That Can Lead to Low Milk Supply:

Breastfeeding Mistake - using the clock to tell you when to feedFeeding 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.

Breastfeeding Mistake #2 That Can Lead to Low Milk Supply:

Giving A Relief Bottle At Night Or Skipping Night Time FeedingsBreastfeeding Mistake - Father feeding baby at night

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. Going long stretches without removing your milk can also bring back your monthly cycle as your body switches back to reproductive mode. It can also cause mastitis and ultimately can lead your body to start shutting down milk production!

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 he is giving the bottle – in the middle of the night! At that point you and dad are both up, which completely negates the point! Then dad will just 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 with what works best for you for nighttime feedings. Is it a breastfeeding mistake to take baby to bed with mother?
    • 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. These moms may 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.
    • Of course, baby’s safety is paramount. Never take your baby to bed if you are not comfortable with it, if you have been consuming alcohol, if you have thick heavy blankets etc. If you are going to nurse in bed, or co-sleep, please do your own research & talk with your pediatrician to ensure your baby’s safety.

Breastfeeding Mistake #3 That Can Lead to Low Milk Supply:

Breastfeeding Mistake - letting baby sleep too longAllowing 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 (& every 2 hours if you are trying to increase milk supply). 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. In order to avoid low milk supply, 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 awake, 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 fall asleep. Then walk around 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.

Breastfeeding Mistake #4 That Can Lead to Low Milk Supply:

Not Nursing Or Pumping If Your Breasts Don’t Feel FullBreastfeeding Mistake - not pumping often enough

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. Doing so may actually make it so that they never feel full again!

What to do if you’ve made any of these Breastfeeding Mistakes – or are Experiencing Low Milk Supply

Correcting Low Milk Supply is Lactiful’s Speciality. If you’ve made some breastfeeding mistakes, or are having any difficulty producing milk, I encourage you to check out our website fully, there’s a lot of really great information. You can also read our article 11 Ways to Increase Low Milk Supply. Be sure to check out Lactiful Supply Max – guaranteed to correct low milk supply in 14 days or less, or your money back! Lactiful Supply Max Bottle and Booklet The Lactiful Method for Increasing Milk Supply

What breastfeeding mistakes have you made? Please share in the comments, so you can spare another mom from making the same breastfeeding mistakes!

18 thoughts on “4 Common Breastfeeding Mistakes That Lead To Low Milk Supply

  1. Bringing baby to bed while nursing and mom falling asleep???? I thought that was danger to the baby to fall asleep next to the baby… the baby can suffocate….

    1. Not if you are smart about it. Don’t cover them with blankets and lay on your arm so you don’t roll over. The countries with the lowest SIDS rates actually have higher bed sharing rates

      1. Look up the safe sleep 7. Like others have said, it is actually safe if you follow those guidelines. Bedsharing while breastfeeding is actually natural.

    2. Do you mean 3 hours from start or end of feed at night ?

      1. Timing for feeds or pumping is always measured from the start of one to the start of the next. This eliminates any confusion caused from a baby who likes to comfort suck for 40 minutes after feeding! This way it doesn’t matter how long the feeding or pumping session itself lasted. Hope that helps!

    3. Agreed. As soon as they mentioned bed sharing and nursing while sleeping, I was out. This is woo.

  2. You claim that mothers who wake multiple times during the night to nurse are less tired than mothers who sleep all night. What?! Why lie about that? That doesn’t even make sense. You could just say that mothers should push through the fatigue if want them to nurse all night instead of blatantly lying.

    1. Oops, typo! I meant to say “You could just say that mothers should push through the fatigue if you want them to nurse all night instead of blatantly lying.

    2. I notice that when I just accept the frequent waking up at night I feel well rested in the morning. When I try to fight it and get upset I’m exhausted and sleep in late. It’s different for everyone!

      1. Facts. I’m more tired when I don’t fully wake up for feedings. I STRUGGLE to get up in morning. Like struggle and normally I can pretty much pop right up.

  3. That’s all about me. You are doing amazing work! Thanks for sharing your wonderful post .

  4. A lot of good tips, but I would not wake baby up if he / she is gaining weight well. He might be going through a neurological growth spurt which would require him to sleep more. Babies are very different and they have their own rhythms. Sometimes they need more food, other times they will eat less. Same goes for sleep. I don’t think it is because you woke your second child that she was easier. Often you would have one baby that is colicky, then another that is super easy going, even if you care for them in the exact same way. They are little individuals.

  5. This is great information. How can I tell when baby switches from feeding to comfort sucking?

  6. Can Lactifull pills cause a change in the milk that can make it difficult for a baby to fall asleep like for day naps?

  7. Very informative post. Didn’t find such a post till now. Helped me a lot about breastfeeding. Thanks.

  8. Lol, it sounds like you work there. 😅

  9. This is probably the most demoralizing and demeaning article I’ve ever read. The whole bit about putting down women who are just desperately in need of sleep, saying mothers who just give in feel more rested? Helpful dads are useless? You’re a bad mom for resenting not getting a moment to rest? I’m shaking I’m so disgusted. This is why I never wanted to breastfeed to begin with, the loss of autonomy and the lack of respect and humanity from other people. My baby only wants the breast but if I could keep him happy without breastfeeding I’d do it in a heartbeat. This article really makes me sick and dehumanized. Why don’t you just say “you’re a milk cow now, get over it”. I’d rather be told that than shamed for wanting SLEEP (how dare I be a HUMAN).

    1. Get a grip. I mean seriously what kind of reaction is that to a very well researched blog post? If you’re bottle feeding than this doesn’t even apply to you. You don’t breastfeed because of „lack of respect and humanity from others“? That’s a really odd reason. It should be about you and your baby and not what others think of you. But each to their own.

      I would recommend you to read the post again. All is based on facts.

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