If you are breastfeeding, you have probably heard about moms who've had to deal with a low milk supply and those who have an oversupply. But what if you struggle with both? Sometimes you have plenty of milk, and other times it seems as though you barely have enough. So why does milk supply fluctuate?
Breast milk is created on a supply and demand basis, but it is also regulated by your hormones. You may not realize it, but certain things you do, eat, and experience on a daily basis can affect your hormones, which in turn, affects the amount of milk your body creates.
The span of time in which you breastfeed your infant coincides with some of the greatest hormonal fluctuations of your life. Most new mothers typically begin to breastfeed immediately after giving birth. If you continue to do so for an extended amount of time, you will likely experience weight changes, the return of your period, and maybe even another pregnancy, all of which can wreak havoc on your hormones. It isn't uncommon for milk supply to increase or decrease depending on what is going on in your life.
Here are some other reasons why your breast milk supply may be fluctuating.
1. You're Menstruating
You may notice a change in your milk supply during or just before your period. According to Kelly Mom, your milk supply can fluctuation while you are on your period or during ovulation.
2. You're Supplementing
Going back to the supple and demand theory, Today's Parent noted that supplementing with formula can trick your breasts into producing less milk. And the less milk comes out, the less supply will be created.
3. You're Pumping
Pumping in between feedings can not only maintain your supply, but can increase your overall supply, according to the aforementioned Kelly Mom article. Your body believes that your baby is nursing more often and so it compensates by making more milk than usual.
4. You're Taking Certain Medicines
According to Parents, taking pseudoephedrine, an ingredient found in many over-the-counter allergy and cold medications, can cause a decrease breast milk production. Today's Parent warned that taking hormonal birth control can also cause a significant decrease in the milk supply of some nursing moms.
5. You Smoke
6. You're Eating Certain Herbs
There are some herbs such as sage, peppermint, oregano, lemon balm, parsley, and thyme that can decrease breastfeeding milk flow when taken in large quantities, according to Parents. There are also other herbs known as galactagogues, that when taken or put into foods may increase your supply.
7. You're Sleep Training
If your baby begins sleeping through the night, your milk supply may drop to match his needs according to Today's Parent. Your levels of prolactin, the milk-making hormone, are higher during night feedings and lower prolactin levels can cause milk supply to fluctuate.
8. You're Pregnant
You may notice a change in your supply if you become pregnant again while still breastfeeding. Hormonal fluctuations caused by pregnancy can affect your milk supply, according to Very Well.
9. You're Stressed
It's stressful enough to be an adult, but add in parenting and breastfeeding to the mix and it can get downright overwhelming. Very Well warned that being under stress can cause fluctuations in breast milk production.