Should You Supplement If Your Milk Supply Is Low? Don't Grab The Bottle Just Yet
When I was pregnant, I signed up for every mom's club I could find, and I received a ton of samples in the weeks leading up to my daughter's birth. A lot of things I tossed, but I always kept bottles and tiny cans of formula. Even though I intended to breastfeed, I figured it didn't hurt to hold on to them in case my milk supply didn't meet my baby's needs. But should you supplement if your milk supply is low?
With so many factors to consider, like possible nipple confusion from bottles and tanking your supply even more if you add in formula, it's easy to understand why a mom might be hesitant to supplement. But KellyMom notes that if you're planning on fixing a low supply, you should first make sure that you actually have an issue and that your body isn't just regulating itself to make you think you have a low supply. If your baby is gaining weight well and has enough dirty and wet diapers, you most likely don't have a supply problem.
But if you think your body isn't producing enough breast milk and your baby is showing signs of a low supply, it's time to do something about it. Many moms immediately add formula to the mix, but that's not always the best route. Lactation consultant Janice Campbell tells Romper that before supplementing with formula, you should always breastfeed your baby first. The only evidence-based way to increase your supply is to pump or breastfeed more frequently. You have to get more milk out in order for more milk to be made.
In fact, KellyMom notes that supplementing can often be the reason for a low milk supply. When you replace a feeding with a bottle, you're giving your body the signal that it doesn't need to produce milk because the baby isn't feeding during those times. The less often you nurse, the more your supply will dwindle to fit your baby's needs.
In short, you don't have to rely on supplementation because, generally, it's possible for you to increase your supply. Fit Pregnancy recommends seeing a lactation consultant before doing anything, as they can help you come up with a pumping routine that increases your supply and keeps your baby well-fed. Your lactation consultant may tell you it's time for you to supplement your baby's feedings with formula if they seem to be losing weight, but you can also supplement with your own pumped milk as you work to increase your supply. Every person is different, so be sure to reach out to a lactation consultant to pinpoint the problem with your supply and decide if supplementation is necessary.