Low milk supply is an issue that a surprising number of nursing mom experience. Unfortunately, many of these mothers give up nursing as soon as they suspect their supply is low.
While it is understandable to be worried that you aren’t giving your baby enough, it’s also important to understand that there are almost always things you can do to increase your supply and continue nursing for as long as you wish.
How to Tell if Your Supply is Low
If you suspect you have a low milk supply, the first thing you’ll want to do is confirm your suspicion. There are many things that may cause a mother to believe her baby isn’t getting enough milk. However, the only reliable indicators of the amount your baby is getting are weight gain and the number of wet and dirty diapers the little one is producing.
If your baby’s weight gain is good in the eyes of their caregiver, and if they are producing six or more wet diapers and three or more soiled diapers each day, you can relax because your supply is fine and baby is getting enough to eat. If these criteria are not being met, try the following options to bring your supply up.
Nurse on Demand
First and foremost, you want to make sure you are nursing as often as baby likes and for as long as they like. Your body produces milk based on demand, so the more you nurse, the more you will produce.
Nursing on demand might leave you feeling like you live in breastfeeding mode. This is completely normal and something baby will eventually outgrow.
Offer Both Sides
When nursing, be sure to offer both sides. When baby is done on one side, offer the other before closing up shop. If your little one falls asleep at the breast often, try switching sides every time they drift off.
Nurse, Then Pump
As mentioned before, your body will produce more milk the more often your breasts are emptied. For this reason, many people find it helpful to pump for a few minutes after every nursing session to completely empty the breasts and stimulate more milk production.
If you pump exclusively or often, you may find it best to pump both breasts at the same time. This will give you more milk per session and will speed up the process to boot.
Breast substitutes (such as pacifiers and bottles) should be avoided until your supply is brought back up. These items can cause problems with baby and can also lead them to nurse less often, something that will only worsen your supply issues.
Stay Hydrated, Eat Up, and Get Rest
Your body can’t make milk if its basic needs aren’t met. For this reason, you will want to be sure to stay hydrated, eat plenty of healthy foods, and get lots of rest. Making milk for your baby is hard work. It requires lots of fluids and tons of energy, so taking care of these basic needs might work wonders when it comes to your milk production.
Try Some Cookies
Many people eat lactation cookies to help increase their supply. Other great milk-boosting food options include oatmeal, brown rice, carrots, apricots, leafy green vegetables, fenugreek, and garlic. Add these ingredients to every meal and you’re likely to see at least some improvement.
See a Professional
If none of these things are working, it’s time to seek out professional help. A lactation consultant can help you ensure your little one is latching correctly, and a visit to your doctor will rule out issues like mastitis.
In most cases, the problem of low milk supply can be sorted out. Working to find a solution may seem frustrating now, but it will be so worth it in the end. Stick with it mama!