Am I a low supply mummy?
I don’t think I’m producing much milk. Should I worry? This is the most common questions that many new mummies worry about. Most mummies are worried that their body isn’t making enough milk and thus, this is one of the most common reason given for giving up breastfeeding. However, the good news is that nearly all women are capable of making plenty of milk for their baby.
But first, let us show you some myth to determine if your milk supply is enough.
Ways to determine if you are a low supply mummy
- baby taking full bottle after nursing session
- did not of leaking milk/ not having letdown feeling
- feeling full / empty with your breast
- the frequency / length of feedings
- how much milk you pumped
These are NOT reliable indicator of to which if you have enough milk.
So, what are the correct signs? Our general thump of rule is as long as baby is pooping, peeing , sleeping well, not fussy and gaining weight means baby is getting enough. There are plenty of definitive signs that’ll let you know whether your baby is getting enough milk and if you are producing enough to meet baby’s demand.
Ways to determine if baby is getting enough milk
- Your baby’s pooping. If you’re changing at least five diapers daily filled with large, seedy, mustard coloured poops, your baby’s getting enough milk. From around two to three months old, the rate would drop to one poop a day, or even one every other day, your baby is getting enough milk too.
- Your baby’s peeing and its light in yellow color. If your baby has 6-8 very wet cloth diapers or 5-6 wet disposable diapers and 2-5 bowel movements per day (after the baby is three days old). To feel what a wet diaper is like, pour three tablespoons of water into a clean diaper.
- Your baby’s content after feedings. Just like how you feel after a full meal, content and ready to nap. If your baby’s crying and fussing a lot after a full nursing, it could mean he’s still hungry (and/or that you’ve got a poor milk supply). Keep in mind, however, that he could be fussing for reasons unrelated to hunger etc colic. In general, if your baby’s active, alert, and healthy overall, your fine.
- Your baby’s gaining weight. There’s no surer sign of good milk supply than a baby who’s putting on the weight. A weight gain of 120g to 200g on average per week indicates he’s getting enough milk.
What causes low supply?
In a breastfeeding relationship, mom’s body responds to baby’s demand. The supply and demand equilibrium between the mummy and baby can break down sometimes, causing a supply issue. The situation can be compounded by:
- Supplementing. Nursing is a supply & demand process. Milk is produced as your baby nurses, and the amount that she nurses lets your body know how much milk is required. Every bottle (of formula, juice or water) that your baby gets means that your body gets the signal to produce that much less milk.
- Bottle preference. A bottle requires a different type of sucking than nursing, and it is easier for your baby to extract milk from a bottle. As a result, giving a bottle can either cause your baby to have problems sucking properly at the breast, or can result in baby preferring the constant faster flow of the bottle.
- Pacifiers. Pacifiers can affect baby’s latch. They can also significantly reduce the amount of time your baby spends at the breast, which may cause your milk supply to drop.
- Nipple shields can be a useful tool in some cases, but hey can also reduce the stimulation to your nipple or interfere with milk transfer, which can interfere with the supply-demand cycle.
- Returning to work. Being separated from their baby for long periods of time, as well as the stress associated with re-entering the work force can make it difficult for moms to maintain their supply. The article Returning to Work has information about how to deal with these challenges.
- Scheduled feedings interfere with the supply & demand cycle of milk production and can lead to a reduced supply, sometimes several months later rather than immediately. Nurse your baby whenever she is hungry.
- Sleepy baby. For the first few weeks, some babies are very sleepy and only ask to nurse infrequently and for short periods. Until baby wakes up and begins to breastfeed well, nurse baby at least every two hours during the day and at least every 4 hours at night to establish your milk supply.
- Cutting short the length of nursings. Stopping a feeding before your baby ends the feeding herself can interfere with the supply-demand cycle. Also, your milk increases in fat content later into a feeding, which helps baby gain weight and last longer between feedings.
- Offering only one breast per feeding. This is fine if your milk supply is well-established and your baby is gaining weight well. If you’re trying to increase your milk supply, let baby finish the first side, then offer the second side.
- Health or anatomical problems with baby (including, jaundice, tongue-tie, etc.) can prevent baby from removing milk adequately from the breast, thus decreasing milk supply.
- Mom’s health (uncontrolled anemia or hypothyroidism, retained placenta, postpartum hemorrhage…), previous breast surgery/injury, hormonal problems (e.g.PCOS), anatomical problems, medications she is taking (hormonal birth control,sudafed…), or smoking also have the potential to affect milk supply.
Identifying and targeting your problem areas can help you bring your supply back up to baby’s demand.
Boosting Your Milk Supply
Here’s the golden rule you got to remember: Baby drinks more, you produce more.
- Getting into the right position. A good latch will ensure that all your milk gets from your breast to your baby effciently and pain-free. Your pain and baby’s lack of swallows indicate a problem and the first suspect is latch or position. A lactation consultant can help you check and see if your latching correctly. Check out how to latch here.
- Go hands-on. Encourage milk letdown and flow by applying warmth to your breasts, shoulders and upper back before nursing. Breast massage and compressions also help.
- Demand Feeding Many mummies find success with demand feeding. You can either nurse-in with your baby to bed with you; nurse and cuddle all day long! Have your partner bring you food, drinks, snacks and allow you to relax so you can bond with your baby. Latch at the slightest signal of baby wanting to nurse regardless how long and how frequent it might takes The extra nursing and the the skin-to-skin contact tells your body to make more milk.
- Use good pump. Use a high quality pump after each feeding (or as often as possible). This helps “empty your breasts” completely, sending the signal out for more milk production. (Do note that you cannot “empty your breast’ as your breast is constantly producing milk, pump as much as you can is good enough.)
- H2O Yeah! Stay hydrated.Keep a bottle of water near the area you breastfeed and drink while your baby does. A warm cup of lactation tea will help you relax, and produce even more milk, which makes for more pleasant and effective nursing sessions.
- Power pumping . The powe pumping sessions work like a charm as it mimics cluster feeding thus encourages your body to make more milk.
- Pumping between feedings as often as you can can help to build up your supply even more
- Rest Rest Rest and more rest, while this is not easy, have your partner take care of your baby for a few hours and have a good sleep works wonders. If you your exhausted, how do you produce milk?
- Do NOT be stress. STRESS IS NO1 MILK KILLER
Despite your best efforts, sometimes your supply still needs a boost.
- Food.Here is a list of galactagogues that we have compiled that might give you an idea what to get your hands on.
- Medications.Your doctor might also prescribe certain medications to help with lactation. Metaclopamide, domperidone, and the antipsychotics, sulpiride and chlorpromazine work by blocking dopamine receptors. This would results in higher prolactin levels and can increase milk supply.
- Singapore Lactation Bakes’ BAKES. We recommend our very own lactation bakes series. They come in cookies, muffins and even pancake mix. Our bakes contains some key ingredients that can help BOOST your breast milk supply. The key ingredients to our bakes are Rolled Oats, Brewer’s Yeast, and Flax Seed and yes there are options to add other herbs that were known to boost milk supplies that you can consider adding to. Read more informations about our lactation bakes here.
When Supplementing is Necessary
You’ve tried everything but your supply still doesn’t meet your baby’s demand, it might be necessary to supplement.
Here’s the golden rule is: offer breast first! Always empty your breasts before offering more nutrition. Even the tiniest amount of breast milk has a huge variety of health benefits and not forgetting nursing more encourages your brain to produce more ( remember the latch more produce more rule?)
The most important thing to understand is this: You are not a failure. A healthy breastfeeding relationship is more than just nutrition nor the milk! You do not need to be full breastfeeding to be a full time mom. It’s about the beautiful bond between your precious little one and you. Supplementing is just another way to enjoy time with your baby.