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What can I do About a Low Milk Supply While Breastfeeding?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Determine whether you’re really experiencing a low milk supply while breastfeeding, and the cause, before looking for a way to treat the problem. Certain health conditions, such as hormonal and thyroid problems, can cause a mother to produce less breast milk. The same is true for medications and birth control methods that contain estrogen. Still, many nursing mothers who suspect they’re not producing enough milk are actually dealing with delivery, rather than production, issues. Your doctor, the baby’s pediatrician, and even a lactation specialist can help you determine the cause of the breastfeeding problems and ways to treat those problems.

Some experts believe experiencing a low milk supply while breastfeeding is rarer than new mothers think. For example, in many instances nursing mothers will notice their breasts feel less full and assume they aren’t producing enough milk, when in reality their bodies are simply adjusting to their babies feeding habits. Also, a baby experiencing a growth spurt will want more milk than usual, and until the mother’s body catches up it will seem as if she is producing a low milk supply. Other breastfeeding issues unrelated to a healthy breast milk supply are related to delivery matters. Such issues include improper latching to the nipple.

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If your baby is healthy and active, nurses every two to three hours, and produces a typical amount of urine and stool for his age, chances are he’s getting enough milk. You can also pay attention to signs such as audible swallowing and milk in the corners of his mouth. The baby’s pediatrician will be able to check for other signs the baby is receiving enough milk, such as regular weight gain.

Since producing a low milk supply while breastfeeding is rare but not impossible, it’s important to understand the causes. You can experience a low milk supply if your baby isn’t feeding often due to latch-on problems or lethargy. Your own problems, such as cracked and painful nipples, could cause the baby to feed less frequently and your milk production to diminish. Birth control pills can reduce milk production, as can certain illnesses and hormonal disorders. If you suspect you’re having breastfeeding problems and any of those factors are present, consider making an appointment with both your doctor and your baby’s pediatrician.

There are several ways nursing mothers can approach the problem of a low milk supply while breastfeeding. In every situation, the first step is to rule out or treat any medical conditions causing the low milk supply, including hormonal and thyroid problems. Also, you should talk with your doctor about stopping any medications that might be causing the breastfeeding problems.

Once those reasons are eliminated, you might consult a lactation counselor. This professional can examine both you and your baby as well as offer tips to help your body produce more milk and help your baby obtain more of the milk your body is producing. Such tips might include increasing the number of daily nursing sessions, switching breasts more frequently, and using a breast pump to make sure your breasts are completely drained after feeding.

Until your body is successful at increasing milk production, you might need to pay extra attention to your baby’s nutrition. This is true whether you seek professional help or work to increase milk production on your own. Talk with your baby’s pediatrician about introducing a formula or some other nutritional supplement approved for babies.

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