Worrying about having low milk supply can be so draining, frustrating and confusing. The good news is, the vast majority of moms can make enough milk to feed their baby with the right knowledge and support.
Whether you’ve struggled with low supply for a while, or you’ve recently noticed a drop in your supply, here are 12 questions you must ask yourself to troubleshoot the problem once and for all.
Let’s dive right in!
12 questions to ask yourself if you have low milk supply
1. Do I have perceived low milk supply or actual low supply?
What is it that’s making you think you have low milk supply? Have you been told your baby isn’t gaining weight “fast enough”? Do your breasts feel soft? Are you struggling to pump milk? Is baby nursing 24/7? (I know it’s hard, but a baby, especially a newborn, who nurses 24/7 is totally normal!)
Inside my e-course, Pumping Mom Academy, we talk about low supply a great deal and bust some myths surrounding low supply. Here’s a really great article by Dr. Jay Gordon called Look at the Baby, Not the Scale. It’s super-helpful if you’ve been told your baby isn’t on track with his weight.
Related reading: 10 Little-Known Tricks to Pump More Breast Milk
2. How’s my stress level?
How do you feel emotionally, mama? If you’ve recently experienced a huge transition, a major life stress, a traumatic experience, or are under a lot of stress, this can impact your milk supply.
If you’re struggling with postpartum anxiety, depression, or stress, you aren’t alone! Reach out to your friends, family, or doctor for support. When nursing or pumping, be sure to take deep breaths and relax all of your muscles. You might even listen to a guided meditation on YouTube to help you de-stress.
3. How does my bra fit?
When’s the last time you’ve been fitted for a bra? If you’re wearing a bra that’s too tight, or too constrictive, this can definitely contribute to low supply. You’ll also want to avoid bras with underwire so as not to cause clogged milk ducts. You may consider wearing a sleep bra to see if that helps your supply. It’s super loose fitting and also super-comfy. I like this brand.
4. Do I have any clogged milk ducts?
If you notice a dip in your supply, be sure to do a breast self-exam and feel around for any lumps. You may have a clogged milk duct making it difficult for the milk to flow freely.
5. Am I emptying my breasts frequently?
Breast milk production works like supply and demand. The act of removing milk from your breasts (either by pumping or nursing) sends a signal to your body to make more milk. If you aren’t removing milk frequently, your body thinks you don’t need much milk and it won’t make the milk. Check out this diagram:
6. Am I sick?
Illness can definitely contribute to low milk supply. (Especially if you are taking certain OTC medications.) Luckily your supply will likely bounce back once you feel better. Just be sure to keep nursing/pumping frequently. If you feel like you have the flu and a red streak on your breast, you may have mastitis. Mastitis is an infection in your breast and you’ll want to see a doctor right away if you suspect you may have this.
7. Has my cycle returned?
Some moms are fortunate enough not to menstruate while breastfeeding. Other moms do experience the return of their cycle while breastfeeding. If you’re having your period, you may notice a dip in your supply. The good news? Your supply should return back to normal in a few days.
8. Have I started/switched birth control?
Believe it or not, the method of birth control you use can dramatically impact your supply. Be sure to talk with your doctor about alternatives.
9. Is there a chance I may be pregnant?
Hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy can cause low milk supply. If you aren’t sure if you could be pregnant, it may be worth taking a test just to rule it out.
10. Am I getting enough to eat and drink?
Somes when moms start dieting or get so busy they forget to eat and drink, their supply can suffer. Breastfeeding moms need extra calories to nourish their bodies. You can burn an average of 500 calories a day just by making milk!
11. Has my baby recently started solid foods?
When your baby starts solids, she will usually (gradually) decrease her milk intake. By drinking less milk, your body will make less milk. The World Health Organization recommends feeding your baby exclusively breast milk for the first six months of life. If you’ve started solids early, you may want to consider stopping and waiting until baby is older just to ensure she’s getting the nutrition she needs from your milk.
12. What kind of support do I have?
One of the number one things that prevent moms from reaching their breastfeeding goals is a lack of support. If you’re overwhelmed by all the information out there and need someone to walk you through this breastfeeding journey, I want to invite you inside my course, Pumping Mom Academy. Pumping Mom Academy is an online course for breastfeeding/pumping moms designed to teach you all the little-known tips and tricks to help you make more milk with less stress.
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