When you're a new mother, one of the most frustrating things in the world is planning to exclusively breastfeed your baby, only to discover that they're not getting enough nourishment. There are a number of reasons you may not be producing enough milk for your baby, and there are just as many reasons low milk supply doesn't mean the end of breastfeeding. It's not an uncommon problem (even if it feels like you're the only breastfeeding woman in the world who is struggling to produce), and there are plenty of different ways to overcome low milk supply and sufficiently provide for your little.
Personally, I've had a bizarre set of breastfeeding experiences. I started out with oversupply, which prevented my daughter from getting enough hind milk and resulting in those awful foamy green poops. After seeing a lactation consultant, I changed my position to slow down the amount of milk flowing, but it ended up reducing my supply drastically. Suddenly, I didn't have enough milk for my baby, and I was scrambling to boost my supply back up. After trying numerous techniques, we finally settled on what worked best for me, and I ended up breastfeeding my daughter for just under two years.
What's important to realize is that low milk supply doesn't have to mean the end of breastfeeding for you and your baby. It may not be as easy as you had envisioned and it might not go according to your initial plan, but it's possible to still have that experience, even if it is modified, and here are nine reasons why:
You Can Supplement With Formula And Continue To Breastfeed
Listen, low milk supply doesn't mean zero milk supply. You can continue to feed your baby as much as you are able, and add in formula at the end of every nursing session. That way, everyone is happy and healthy.
You Can Try Herbs To Boost Your Supply
Lots of websites and lactation experts recommend several herbal supplements that can potentially help increase your milk supply. Try them with caution, but plenty of women have found success with these herbs.
You Can Try "Milk Teas"
I had a brand of supply boosting tea that I would make each night, using three tea bags in a mason jar and letting my concoction sit in the fridge overnight. I would sip it throughout the next day, and would always notice a difference in my supply by the afternoon.
You Can Eat Foods To Encourage Supply
There are lots of options here, but the most popular are lactation cookies and oats. I know lots of women who swore by their daily bowl of oatmeal to help boost their supply.
You Can See A Lactation Consultant
A lactation consultant can seriously be the answer to your prayers, when you're having supply issues. They are invested in helping you succeed in your breastfeeding goals, and will often be able to diagnose any additional problems that may be causing you to have issues with your supply.
You Can See A Doctor
Okay, this may be more prevalent in my country (Canada), but it isn't unheard of for women to be prescribed certain pharmaceuticals known to increase lactation. That is literally what saved my breastfeeding relationship with both kids, and I experienced no ill effects at all, both times. That said, it's something to talk over with your doctor, to see if it's right for you.
You Can Try Pumping To Increase Supply
You Can Use A Lactation Aid
Lactations aids take some getting used to, but they can be worth it, if you want to continue breastfeeding without the stress of producing enough milk. My aunt used one with formula for all three of her kids, because she really wanted to have the breastfeeding experience with them, but her milk supply was too low for them to be exclusively breastfed.
You Can Use A Breastmilk Bank
Breastmilk banks are a thing, and they are life savers for moms with babies who are reacting to all types of formula. I have a friend who wasn't making enough breastmilk, despite trying all of the above methods to increase supply. She had tried all sorts of formula, and her son had developed horrible psoriasis in reaction to all of them. Once she started using donated breastmilk, his skin problems disappeared.