If you're a breastfeeding mom, you're not the only one worrying about whether you're making enough milk for your growing baby. Although the odds are that your milk supply is completely fine, knowing about the reasons you're not making enough breast milk, will help you avoid the culprits of low supply like the plague.
The majority of these factors are most important in the early months of nursing, when you and your baby are still getting in the swing of things and your milk supply is still becoming well-established. As time goes on, however, you'll learn the ropes and know how to avoid activities, habits, or other things that may negatively impact your supply.
Although it may feel like a lot to worry about (along with your laundry list of other motherhood worries,) the Mayo Clinic noted that having a low milk supply is very rare. Most women make one-third more milk than their baby drinks. Regardless of the odds, doing what you can to ensure a healthy milk supply — and avoid a low one — is in the best interest of both you and your growing babe. But before your jump to conclusions, rule out the most common factors and go from there.
1. You're Not Nursing Enough To Keep Up Your Supply
According to the Mayo Clinic, if you're not nursing enough — especially in the first few weeks — your body will make less and less milk. The site noted that you should nurse at least eight to 12 times a day (or every two to four hours) to keep up a maximum supply.
2. Your Baby Has A Poor Latch
When your baby has a poor latch, it creates a vicious cycle of low demand and low supply, according to What to Expect. If your baby isn't sucking properly, your body will believe that it doesn't need to make as much milk, thereby decreasing your supply. If you're experiencing any pain during breastfeeding, or your baby has a hard time latching on, contact a lactation consultant or read up on tips to help you get a deeper latch.
3. You Skip Feedings Or Pumping Sessions
Similar to not nursing enough, skipping feedings or pumping sessions teaches your body not to make milk during that time, which will lead to a lower supply in the long run. Many moms are tempted to drop the nighttime feedings first, but according to Mamapedia, night is when your prolactin (the breast milk producing hormone) levels are highest.
4. You Take Medications That Adversely Affect Your Supply
The Mayo Clinic noted that some prescription and over-the-counter medications can decrease your milk supply. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or a lactation expert before taking any medications.
5. You Drink Or Smoke Excessively
According to La Leche League International, heavy drinking or frequent smoking can decrease your milk supply, as well as have other negative health consequences for you and your baby.
6. You Have Hormonal Issues That Made It Difficult To Conceive
One of the more common reasons for milk supply issues is hormonal imbalances or endocrine issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid imbalances, diabetes, or hypertension. According to Today's Parent, these issues, which often make it difficult to conceive in the first place, may affect your milk supply, since breast milk production relies on hormonal signals to your breasts and brain.
7. You're On A Hormonal Birth Control
Birth control is another notorious culprit for low milk supply, particularly those containing estrogen, according to Parents. Although there are other non-hormonal methods of birth control that won't affect your milk supply.
8. You Supplement With Formula
Although there's nothing wrong with supplementing with formula, and many mothers have to for medical reasons, in the beginning stages of establishing your milk supply, if you're not nursing frequently enough to keep up your supply, supplementing may deplete your supply, according to Today's Parent.
9. You Have A Rigid Nursing Schedule
Although the heart behind scheduling your feedings is likely to ensure that your baby is eating enough, it can actually negatively impact your supply. According to Today's Parent, putting your baby on a strict nursing schedule or trying to space out feedings will tell your breasts that they don't need to be making as much milk during those times.