Sometimes when a baby starts to drink more than usual and becomes fussy
at the breast, the mother might think that her milk supply has gone down. Usually it has nothing to do with her supply. There are many things that can cause fussing at the breast.
This page will discuss reasons for low milk supply and things you
can do whilst breastfeeding, that will increase your milk supply. But firstly, lets pinpoint some of the main reasons for low milk production...
If your baby is not latching on properly, you will not receive
enough breast stimulation, which is necessary for optimum milk production. For a
more detailed explanation on this, visit the latching on page.
It is assumed that about 1% of women have physiological trouble, which is usually related to their metabolism. This prevents them from producing
enough milk to feed their babies.
Obesity is a risk factor for the delayed onset of milk production and low milk supply.
When Moms receive intravenous fluid by constant drip, this can lead to edema (swelling from excessive accumulation of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or serous cavities) and this can set back the onset of milk production.
Breast surgery: namely breast reduction, breast augmentation and breast reconstruction.
Anaemia (a deficiency of red blood cells) in the mother.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (ovaries containing many cysts/sores/ulcers/growths) can also create low supply. Read more about PCOS and what you can do, if it is affecting your milk supply.
Sheehan’s Syndrome: When the pituitary gland (master gland of the endocrine system; located at the base of the brain) is temporarily starved of
blood, due to haemorrhaging during birth and, as a result, no longer
produces enough hormones for lactation.
If a mother's milk has not "come in" and she continues to experience
abnormal bleeding after delivery, she may still be retaining pieces of
the placenta within her uterus. (This is also possible with a C-section).
Some women are not capable of breastfeeding, due to preconceived
ideas about it, or ideas placed in their minds by their parents and
friends. Women who have been molested as children, might also struggle with the idea of breastfeeding.
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone): This can be corrected with medication and is another possible cause of low milk supply.
Warm compresses to the breast may help increase the flow of milk.
Many mothers have found that relaxation and visualization techniques
help. There are audios that mothers can listen to that are specially made
to help them relax and visualize milk removal.
Oatmeal has been proven to increase a woman's milk supply. The added iron in your diet will help increase milk production.
Mothers Milk Tea
is a drink for mothers with low milk supply. It usually contains sweet
fennel seed, anise seed, coriander seed, spearmint leaf, lemongrass
leaf, lemon verbena leaf, althea root, blessed thistle herb and
To maximize milk production, you can use breast massage. This will increase breast drainage so that the signal to the breast to make more milk, is improved. An easy and efficient way to maximize removal of milk, is to massage the breasts before and during feeding or by pumping.
Breast compression: While the baby is drinking, compress the breast gently but firmly - not too hard; do not hurt yourself!
Seaweed: Koreans traditionally use seaweed soup as a remedy/tonic for new mothers, to help stimulate milk production. The seaweed wraps that are used to make Sushi are just as potent.
Quinoa: This grain has been used by traditional societies during lactation and is said to boost milk production.
A lot of skin-to-skin contact, enjoying your baby's sweet face and the feel of his/her skin, will help your milk flow, and will help you both relax.
Make sure that most of the milk is removed from your breasts after each feeding. If there is milk left in the breasts, it tells the body that it does not need to make as much and, therefore, leads to low milk supply.
Try nipple stimulation. Nipple stimulation releases oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the milk ejection reflex, into the bloodstream.
No! I have seen mothers with small breasts, produce large amounts of milk. Breast size mainly determines the storage capacity, not milk production.
Women with large breasts
usually produce milk at slower rates, since they can store a lot of milk, while
women with small breasts will produce milk at faster rates in order to
meet the requirements of their babies, who will drain the breasts faster.
Pumping to Increase Milk Supply
Use an electric pump, instead of a hand pump. Hand pumps are helpful for occasional pumping, but a lot of mothers find it to be arduous and time-consuming, if used more than once a day. Use a hospital-grade pump; they work better. Also, buy a hands-free setup for your pump to make things easier for yourself.
Using hand massage and hand compression while pumping, will increase milk volume; it also drains the breast better and faster.
Try to pump every two hours around the clock, for a few days to boost supply.
Bottle feeding can be detrimental in the early days of a nursing relationship. By owning your own supplemental feeding device, you can manage how your baby is supplemented after birth.
The most common devices deliver the supplement to the baby via a small, flexible tube that is taped or placed on the mother’s nipple. The baby takes both the tube and the mother’s nipple into the mouth and receives the supplement, while nursing at the breast. Read more about this here.
Sometimes with all these measures taken above, you may still have a
low milk supply. Depression, anger and denial are all common reactions
to what may come as a blow to the new mother. A lactation specialist or
postpartum counsellor may be able to help you work through your frustration and depression.