When you're a nursing mama, feeding often feels like it's a full-time job. And it pretty much is. Between trying to balance family life while still checking off all your to-do's, opting for the bottle instead is sometimes the most convenient choice to make. But does skipping one feeding really hurt your milk supply? I interviewed the experts to find out the answer to this question (and others) so you don't have to — because you have enough going on.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and La Leche League Leader Leigh Anne O'Connor tells Romper that "milk supply is based on the supply and demand principal. Taking milk out of breasts signals the body to make more milk." But this can mean different things for different moms, she continues.
"Some people can skip a feeding here or there with no long lasting effects, however, other people can skip one feeding and it can wreak havoc on their milk supply."
Andrea Tran of Breast Feeding Confidential is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Registered Nurse with over 35 years of experience helping moms and babies. Tran says that while one feeding may not impact a mother's milk supply, other factors may decrease her supply. "It can depend on when the feeding is missed and how long it ends up being between feedings," she tells Romper.
In addition to long periods between feeding and pumping, she says, conditions like PCOS and Diabetes can result in a low milk supply, as can a history of breast surgery and even eating certain foods such as peppermint and sage can decrease your milk supply. O'Connor explains that things like engorgement can send a signal to your body to slowdown milk production as well.
But if you're a mom who's committed to breastfeeding and making the most of your milk supply, here are some tips from the experts that can actually help increase the amount of milk you produce. O'Connor suggests nursing more frequently and even pumping after you nurse, which can signal your body to make more milk. Alternative methods including "certain herbs [like Fenugreek, Goat’s Rue and Shatavari] and acupuncture can increase [your] milk supply," she adds; a variety of foods, including certain types of fruits, can help to boost your supply. She also recommends pumping or nursing at least eight times in a 24-hour time period.
Even with all of that, it can be hard to tell if you're making enough milk for your baby. Luckily, there are some clues that can indicate your child is getting eating enough.
"You know you are making enough milk if your baby is gaining weight well, is satisfied between feedings (cluster feeding is normal), and they are putting out appropriate diapers," says O'Connor, "though some babies will continue to put out diapers and still gain on the slower side," she adds. Of course, ultimately, if you're concerned about your milk supply, check with your doctor, a lactation consultant, and/or your child's pediatrician.
Leigh Anne O'Connor, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and La Leche League Leader
Andrea Tran, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Registered Nurse, Breast Feeding Confidential