Dealing With a Low Milk Supply
If you know the signs, then you can start increasing your milk before it becomes completely dried up.
So, here are some signs to see if your milk supply is low and what may be causing it:
Signs of a Low Milk Supply
My baby isn't gaining weight. Your baby will usually loose weight in the first few days after birth. This is totally normal.
But, after a month, if you baby hasn't gained any weight and feels a little bit heavier, you may not be producing enough milk.
Another way to tell if your baby has gotten bigger is by their clothes size. At 4 months old, my youngest son was wearing a size 6 months! So there was no doubt in my mind that he was gaining weight good on breast milk alone!
My baby isn't having a bunch of dirty diapers. If your baby isn't peeing a lot, about 5-6 diapers a day, then you may have a low milk supply.
Now, if you find yourself being lazy sometimes and only changing your baby's diaper about two or three times a day, then those diapers should be extra heavy with urine.
Don't worry about the amount of bowel movement (#2) diapers. Breastfed babies don't produce a lot of stool diapers. Once a week, sometimes once in two weeks is ok and normal. As long as you see something at some point.
Actually, these are the only signs that would tell you if you weren't producing enough milk for your baby. You have to remember one thing....if your body was able to create your precious little baby, it's not going to leave you in the dark when it comes time to feeding them.
Next, are not reasons to believe you have a low milk supply:
Not Signs of a Low Milk Supply
My baby gets frustrated while nursing as if he's not getting enough. Think about it like this. When you're really hungry and you finally get your food in front of you, you may eat faster than normal in the beginning in order to satisfy your hunger a little bit. Then you calm down.
It's pretty much the same way with your baby. If he's really hungry and you put him to your breast, the milk may not always come out immediately. Sometimes he has to work for it. And during that time, he may get frustrated until the milk starts flowing out, calming him down.
Wouldn't you get frustrated in the same situation? Nursing often will help your baby to not get extremely hungry between feedings.
My baby nurses a lot! That's ok. You have a growing child who needs to eat a lot. And breast milk digests very quickly! In about 2 hours! So feed your baby when he wants to eat.
My baby doesn't nurse for a long time anymore. As your baby gets older, he also gets better at getting the milk out quicker than before.
My milk doesn't leak and/or my breasts feel softer than in the beginning when I first started breastfeeding. The only thing that has happened is that your body has figured out how much milk to produce for your baby. So now it is not over-producing anymore, it is producing just the right amount of milk.
I don't get a lot of milk when I pump. Your baby does a better job at getting your milk out than any pump will ever be able to do. So don't measure your milk supply by that. If you pump enough during the day, you will see that those small ounces add up fast!
Next, are things that may be causing you to have a low milk supply:
What's Causing Your Milk Supply to be Low
Stress. Stress on your part can cause you to have a low milk supply. So relax! There's a saying that goes like this: "Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday".....everything will work out in its own way.
Baby not latching on properly. If your baby is not latching on good, then he is not getting enough milk out, which may cause your milk supply to go down.
You are waiting too long before nursing again. Let your baby nurse when he wants to. Even if it seemed like he was full 5 minutes ago. This will keep your breast milk supply up. He knows what he's doing.
If you feel your breasts getting too full while your baby is sleeping, wake him up and nurse him. I'm sure he won't mind being close to mommy.
Also, if you're away from your baby for too long, take your breast pump with you and pump, because when you wait too long to nurse again in between feedings, your body will think your baby doesn't need a lot of milk. This will make your breast milk production decrease.
Giving food, formula, water or juice to your baby. If you give your baby anything other than breast milk, your body will start producing less milk, because it will think your baby doesn't need as much anymore.
If you have a thumb sucker or if you give your baby a pacifier. If your baby has either of those two things in his mouth more than your breasts, your milk will decrease.
I had a thumb sucker, and instead of him nursing for comfort, he would suck his thumb. This reduced my milk dramatically, because on top of that, he wanted to start eating food.
So with him I didn't even bother trying to increase my breast milk. He almost weaned himself.....
That is until another baby came when he was 1 1/2. Then all of a sudden he was interested in nursing again.....go figure!
You nurse less frequently because of pain. If you've stopped nursing because of nipple pain, or any other pain associated with breastfeeding, here are some ways to reduce the pain so you can start back nursing immediately.
If after looking over everything, you're still concerned that you have a low milk supply, and you're determined to continue feeding your baby your milk, then there are several ways to increasing your breast milk supply.
I also recommend a book called "The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk". It goes more in depth about milk supply in general.