Breastfeeding may be the most natural thing in the world, but the reality is that there's nothing simple about it. The way your body creates milk and gives it to your baby is incredibly complex, and involves so much more than just your breasts and your baby. In order for breastfeeding to be as smooth and effective as possible, your entire body (and even your mind) needs to be "in sync." If you've ever suspected a dip in your milk supply, but weren't quite sure why, it's likely that you're unaware of a few of the small breastfeeding mistakes that are taking a toll on your supply. Since breastfeeding involves so much of your body, it's easy to let these mistakes happen without noticing.
One article from the University of Florida noted that many moms are unprepared for the mental and physical toll that breastfeeding can take on their body. Low or diminished supply can be caused by many, many things, and keeping track of them all seems like a job in and of itself.
Don't let that add to your worries about your milk supply though. With these common mistakes in the back of your mind, keeping an eye on your supply will soon become second nature.
1. You Skip Feedings
Skipping a feeding here and there seems harmless enough, but if it happens often, your supply will take a hit. According to the Mayo Clinic, skipped feedings are the leading culprit of low milk supply. Although you can skip a feeding every once in a while without facing major consequences, skipping often, or even semi-often, signals to your body that you don't need the milk, and soon your milk supply will take the hint.
2. You Haven't Mastered A Deep Latch
Another mistake that can be very discouraging is not mastering a deep latch right away. The American Pregnancy Association (APA) called a deep latch the most important part of breastfeeding, and as such, can significantly affect your supply and cause lots of pain if it's not corrected sooner rather than later. Luckily, mastering your baby's latch isn't difficult with the proper instruction, Parents noted.
3. You're Not Eating Well
Although Today's Parent noted that diet and water don't necessarily affect your milk supply directly (a mom can still produce enough milk for her baby with a very limited diet), your overall health is important to allow your body to continue to produce milk. If you're not eating healthy foods and staying hydrated, your body will pull from the nutrients you do have to make milk for your baby, leaving you depleted and exhausted.
4. You Rely On Solids Instead Of Nursing
As exciting as it can be when your baby starts eating solids, if you let them take the place of nursing, your supply will immediately start to decrease. Even if you plan to slowly wean your baby off breastfeeding, Healthy Children noted that continuing to nurse often as you give your baby more and more solids will ensure that your supply is still intact.
5. You're Too Stressed
An article from Very Well noted that having high stress levels can impact your milk supply and your ability to breastfeed successfully. Although your milk certainly won't "dry up" in stressful situations, the fact that it can cause it to diminish is an important reminder to take care of yourself as you care for your little one.
6. You Don't Ask For Help
Breastfeeding doesn't have to be a one woman show. Although many moms feel pressured to push through their struggles and figure it out for themselves, your milk supply won't be the only thing in danger if you neglect asking for help. Parents encouraged new moms to reach out to their local hospital, La Leche League International chapter, or even a friend if they're concerned about any aspect of breastfeeding. Your milk supply (and your mental health) will thank you for it.