Breastfeeding has enough challenges without adding "low supply" to the list. But for many women, a low milk supply hinders their breastfeeding experience and can lead to frustration for both mom and baby. But knowing what to do if you have low milk supply can ease your breastfeeding struggles and help you continue your plans to breastfeed.
One thing you have to keep in mind before you start trying to increase your milk supply is that your milk supply may actually be fine. Breastfeeding is not a one-size-fits-all journey for mothers and babies. According to the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, a national study on feeding practice found that around 50 percent of nursing mothers cited low milk supply as their reason for not continuing to breastfeed. Although the Barriers to Breastfeeding segment notes that poor breastfeeding techniques and infrequent feeding can cause low milk supply, it also mentions that not understanding how lactation works or having confidence in breastfeeding can make breastfeeding moms feel that they have a low milk supply when their supply is actually sufficient.
According to KellyMom, if your baby is having the right amount of wet and dirty diapers and gaining weight well, you don't have a low milk supply. It doesn't matter if your baby's eating habits change, if they are fussy on or off the breast, or if your pumping sessions aren't as successful as you think they should be. The wet and dirty diapers, along with weight gain, are all you need to prove that your milk supply is adequate.
However, if you know for certain that your baby is having issues with your milk supply, there is a way to increase it. Fit Pregnancy notes that the most common reason for a low milk supply is that your breasts aren't adequately drained when your baby is feeding or you're pumping. Because of this, your breasts don't produce as much milk as they should and your supply can take a hit. Even if breastfeeding started out great, your milk supply can still decrease if you go too long between feedings or pumping sessions.
So if low milk supply is often the cause of not draining your breasts properly, it's time to do that, right? KellyMom suggested speeding up your milk production by removing more milk from your breast more frequently. Certified lactation counselor Danielle Downs Spradlin told Romper that the number one evidence based way to increase your milk supply is to nurse and pump frequently. Nurse your baby as often as possible, pump between breastfeeding sessions, and then nurse some more. As your breasts are drained each time, they produce more milk to refill, increasing your supply.
If nursing your baby more frequently isn't working, you could have a latch issue. It's always beneficial to reach out to a lactation consultant and schedule an appointment so they can see how your baby is breastfeeding and pinpoint any potential problems causing your low milk supply.