Signs your Milk Supply is Decreasing
Signs your milk supply is decreasing
Breastfeeding is regarded as the most important phase in a new mother’s life. It is the stage, where she undergoes a lot of changes in her physical and mental health.
Through breastfeeding, an emotional bond develops between the mother and child, and this bond is going to last forever. As much as it is a lovely phase, it is not a bed of roses for most mothers.
Almost all feeding mothers have one important question in their minds, “is my baby getting enough milk”? A mother’s breast always produces enough milk for her baby.
The surprising and beautiful fact is that the production of milk increases in a mother’s breast as her baby starts to feed regularly. In some cases, though, a mother’s milk supply starts to decrease, leading to the baby’s hunger not being satisfied.
Here, we aim to give you some clarity on the basic rules of the breast milk supply, when you should know that your milk supply is decreasing, why you shouldn’t panic when your milk supply decreases and other related matters.
Is Your Baby Getting Enough Milk?
Now, let’s address the first question that arises in every mother’s mind when she starts to breastfeed. Mostly, all mothers will produce enough milk for their babies, at least for the first 6 months.
When the baby completes 6 months, he is introduced to solid foods, due to which his breastfeeding schedules may get reduced. This triggers a natural reduction in milk production in a mother’s breast.
However, even while exclusively breastfeeding, you should watch for certain signs from your baby to know if he has had his full or not. If he remains calm and content after a feed, it means your breasts are producing enough milk for him.
How do you know that your baby hasn’t got enough milk? Here are some signs that will tell you that your milk supply wasn’t sufficient for your baby:
Baby not gaining enough weight
While a baby doesn’t gain any significant weight in the first week or so, it is critical for you to monitor his weight regularly to know if you have been producing enough milk for him. Right from the day of birth, babies do lose at least 5% of their weight for a few days, after which, their weight will increase by around 20g every day. So, by day 14 or 15, your baby should weigh almost the same as his birth date.
If that doesn’t happen, and if he around 10% lighter than the date of his birth, it is a sign for you that he is not getting enough milk during his feeding sessions. It could be because your milk supply has decreased or is not enough for him. Your baby’s weight at the end of day 15 is the first sign for you to consult the advice of your doctor or lactation consultant.
Not enough wet and dirty nappies
After the obvious sign of your baby’s weight, the next important clue that you have to watch out for is his nappies. Is he passing enough urine and motions during the day? Are his nappies getting wet and dirty quite often? If not, it is definitely a cause of concern. During the first three days, he may have only about 1 wet or dirty nappy per day. However, after day three, he should consistently have two more nappies per day.
By the fifth day, if your boy is getting enough milk, he will be having close to five nappies per day. Also, by the end of the first week, his nappies will start getting heavier. If your baby’s nappy is not heavy enough or if he doesn’t have at least 3 nappies by day 10, it means that your decreased milk supply is not enough for him.
Baby is dehydrated
You can understand that your milk supply has reduced and is not enough for your baby if he is dehydrated. Dryness of the mouth, lethargic movements and a yellowish tinge in the eyes and skin areas are some of the first signs that your baby is dehydrated. Severe symptoms of dehydration include fever, vomiting, and baby not latching on to your breast willingly.
What you Should do when you See the Above Signs
When your baby shows one or all of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor right away. Sometimes, a slight change in your nursing position may help you to feed your child better than before.
You can work closely with your lactation consultant on the apt feeding position that is comfortable for you and your baby to help him get enough after every feed.
If your milk supply has reduced due to various reasons, your baby’s pediatrician may recommend a good formula feed that you can supplement along with your milk. This will give your baby all the desired nutrients. Even if your milk supply has reduced, please don’t get stressed about the same.
The change in sleeping/eating habits, sudden change of lifestyle, hormonal changes caused due to the delivery, complications during delivery and other factors can contribute to the reduction of milk supply in many new mothers.
Let us see some common factors that may lead to a quicker reduction in milk supply in some mothers when compared to the others.
Common Reasons for Reduced Milk Supply in a Mother’s Breasts
When your baby reaches about six months old, you will find a natural reduction in your milk supply. At this stage, your baby is already at a stage where he can be introduced to other solids like rice and soft vegetables.
So, your feeding schedules would reduce. Your body reacts to your baby’s needs and produces milk to that extent. When your feeding frequency decreases, it would eventually lead to a reduction in the milk supply of your breasts as well.
The three main factors that contribute to a reduction in your milk supply, especially when your baby turns 6 months old, are the following:
Resume work after your maternity leave
When you join back work after about 6 months of work, your feeding schedule will decrease drastically. However, to ensure that your baby doesn’t lose out on the nutrients, you might still resort to the process of pumping your milk and refrigerating the same.
As we already told you, the more your baby latches on your nipple, the more milk your breasts produce. With the latching sessions reduced significantly, it is only natural that your milk supply would also reduce gradually.
Sometimes, the milk supply in new mothers starts to reduce when she doesn’t feel the effects of her postnatal hormones at all. Within 6 months, a new mother would have figured out her baby’s feeding routines and also thought of other alternatives in the form of solids.
By this time, her body is almost as normal as it was before she got pregnant, with her periods being on time. All of these lead to the reduced milk supply in her breasts. Yes, pumping at regular intervals and expressing the milk may help to delay the reduction process, though.
Solid foods to babies
When your baby turns 6 months old, you might start giving him healthy and easy to digest solids such as rice, soft vegetables, and fruits. After drinking only breast milk for 6 months, your baby is likely to be attracted to the taste of these solids.
So, he will start to nurse lesser and lesser. He will be reluctant to latch on to your breast, but he would be eager to taste other foods. As your baby stops nursing, you will find that your milk supply has reduced considerably.
What to do if Milk Supply Starts to Reduce even Before the Baby is 6 months old?
It is highly recommended that your baby should be exclusively breastfed until he turns 6 months old. While this is a natural process for most mothers, it is not the case with a few other new mothers. Due to various reasons, they are not able to feed their newborns, because of a reduction in milk supply or no milk supply at all. If you face this issue, you can resort to the following solutions:
- Attend regular one-to-one sessions with your lactation consultants to
- know more about the feeding positions
- understand the importance of skin to skin contact
- feel relaxed with the help of music and aromatherapy while nursing
- learn other tricks to improve the production of the oxytocin hormone, which regulates the milk supply in new mothers.
- Sometimes, even if you have enough milk supply, you may not be able to feed your baby, because of premature birth or other reasons. In that case, your lactation consultant may help you to pump your milk or express it through hand at regular intervals to keep the milk supply continuous and sufficient for your baby.
- If you are not able to produce enough milk for your baby despite trying various feeding positions, your pediatrician may recommend an infant formula that would give your baby all the required nutrients for his overall development.
Simple Tips to Improve Milk Supply
- Nurse your baby around 8 to 12 times in a day for the first couple of months or so
- Express your milk or use a breast pump, if needed, to empty your breasts whey they feel heavy
- Massage your breasts at regular intervals to reduce the soreness of pain, if any
- Applying a warm or cold compress on your breasts at least once or twice a day in the initial few weeks to ensure that you are feeling relaxed while nursing
Is your Milk Supply actually Decreasing?
A new mother undergoes various changes in her body when she delivers and starts to nurse. A string of hormonal reactions changes in your body and constant fear about your baby not getting enough milk lead you to believe that your milk supply has decreased even though that is not the case actually.
Here are some instances, where you may feel that your breasts are producing less milk, even if that’s not the case:
In the first 1 or 2 months, you may feel the heaviness in your breasts when it is time to feed your baby. You may also experience milk leakage issues in the initial stages of nursing.
However, after 2 months or so, the milk supply in your breasts would have been automatically regulated, based on your baby’s needs. So, when the heaviness or leakage stops, you don’t have to panic at all. Your milk supply hasn’t reduced; on the contrary, your nursing schedules just got normalized as your body has adjusted to nursing at appropriate intervals.
For the first 2 or 3 months, your baby may take up to 20 to 30 minutes for every feed. However, when he is about 4 or 5 months old, he may take only 10 minutes for every feed. That doesn’t mean your milk supply has decreased.
It only means that your baby has become an expert in latching on to your breast and that he can get what he wants within 10 minutes. Once your baby has become 6 months old, he would lift up his head often to see various other things around his home, so his nursing time would only get shorter and shorter.
Sometimes, your baby may wake up frequently at night, because he has slept for a long stretch before that, or because of other issues such as a wet nappy, fever, etc. As a young mother, it is natural for you to think that your baby is waking up often because he is not getting enough milk from you, but that’s not the case at all.
You need to remember that your baby may not always look disturbed because he is not getting enough milk; it could be due to various other factors as well. So, you need to give your motherhood some patience and rest assured knowing that your body will eventually adapt to your baby’s schedule. Nurse your baby at regular intervals and let nature take care of the rest.