What Causes Low Milk Supply in Breastfeeding Mothers?
Created by Ankita A Talwar Updated on Aug 07, 2022
During breastfeeding, all mothers are ridden with this thought that "is my body producing ample milk for my baby or is my child left hungry?" While time and again each paediatrician and gynaecologist will assure you that each mother's milk is sufficient for her child, reassuring a new mother is not so easy. However, the fact is that if your baby is gaining sufficient weight and otherwise seems healthy and content, you are producing enough for him. Although there are a few mothers who battle low milk supply issues, most of the times it is the improper latching that is the culprit. Make sure that you breastfeed on demand and for as long as your baby wants.
Low Milk Supply In Breastfeeding Mothers
Science has proven that a mother's body is adaptive to her baby's demands. This essentially means that the more your breastfeed, the more your body produces. In the initial days, it is very important to feed the baby on demand to maintain optimum supply. Supplementing with formula can actually affect the production of milk, and is best avoided unless the demand-supply ratio is well maintained. If you are concerned about your breast milk supply, you should seek your doctor's help as some medical conditions can cause your body to produce less milk. If it is essentially necessary to supplement, it is best to feed the baby your own pumped milk. Helpful Read: Hyperlactation Causes & Remedies to Cure
What Causes Low Milk Supply In Breastfeeding Mothers?
The below listed reasons can hamper or lower the breast milk supply in new breastfeeding moms:
- Supplementing: If you are supplementing with formula, especially in the initial days after the birth, your breast milk supply could be interfered. Working on a demand-and-supply mechanism, the lesser your baby feeds, the lesser milk your body makes
- Using Pacifiers: Pacifiers can make it difficult for your baby to latch on the breast properly, and she may start preferring the same over the breast. This can cause considerable decrease in breast milk supply
- Not feeding on demand: Babies have tiny tummies and can feel hungry soon after a feeding. Scheduled feedings interfere the production of milk and hence it is strongly advised to feed your baby on demand
- Baby's Medical Conditions: Having a premature baby, or a baby who develops jaundice, or babies with anatomical problems may not be able to feed properly causing the breast milk supply to decrease
- Using Nipple Shields: Though useful when you have sore or cracked nipples, but nipple shields when used for longer periods of time can again impact the demand and supply mechanism of the body
- Bottle Feeding: Bottle feeding requires different latching and sucking techniques than breastfeeding. It is also much easier to feed on a bottle because the flow is better and quick. However, babies who get used to bottle feeding will feed less on the breast and hence affect the milk supply
- Shorter Nursing sessions: Breastfeeding takes time, and it is a slow process. If you limit nursing sessions to a few minutes, your baby only gets the thin foremilk and does not have the calorie rich hindmilk. This can again send the signal to your body to produce less milk
- Mother's Health: Breastmilk supply can also get affected if the mother suffers from hypothyroidism, has had a recent breast surgery, has PCOS or suffers from any other illness
How Can Breast Milk Supply Be Increased Naturally At Home?
So, here are some tips that will help improve lactation...
- Relax: Might sound paradoxical, but the more you stress, the lesser your body will be able to produce milk. Studies have shown that stress can reduce the production of oxytocin, a hormone responsible for milk production. Go for a walk, listen to some calming music, think happy thoughts and be relaxed
- Nurse more: The sucking motion of the baby stimulates milk production and therefore the more you nurse, the more your breasts will produce milk. The fact is that in spite of your feeling that your baby will not be satisfied after your feed if you don't feed, your body will not produce milk. So basically you create a demand-supply cycle for yourself
- Be confident: Pregnancy and motherhood are times when everyone feels they know how to guide you. A mother-in-law may suggest that there is not sufficient let down of milk and your baby is hungry. Trust yourself. Listening too much to negativity will affect your willingness to feed. Politely tell them that if the baby wants to feed again even after a short gap, you will feed, but are not willing to give the child top feed
- Don't get pressured: Even if your child demands feed every 45 minutes, it is okay! Babies have tiny tummies and cannot hold more than a few ounces for longer times at each feeding. Each child has a separate feeding pattern and so even if your child gives you a gap of 45 minutes between each feed session, rest assured your baby is getting enough milk
- Watch out for signs: How do you know your child is feeding enough? Simply by his output! What goes in comes out so if he is peeing and pooping regularly, then something is going inside him and his body is processing the same. Another indication is optimum weight gain in the baby. Be happy!
- Have a healthy diet: If you eat healthily, your body will be able to produce enough milk. So, rather than focusing on heavy foods, focus on the right diet. Have ample to eat and do not even think of cutting back on your food to lose the baby fat. That can wait. Eat enough cereals, milk and milk products, dry fruits etc.
- Focus on let down of milk: Sometimes, even though your body may be producing sufficient milk, it might not be available to the child because of improper let down of milk. For this: have plenty of fluids, before, after and during feeding; be stress-free; ensure baby latches on properly (the child should be suckling on the entire areola and not just on the nipple
- Offer both breasts: Once the baby is done with one side and it feels softer, offer her the other breast. Offering one breast at a time works when the milk supply is well established until then make sure you offer both breasts to your baby
- Rule out latching problems: Improper latching will leave your baby hungry and milk from your breasts will not be removed completely. This will again cause the breast milk supply to diminish. Make sure the baby is latched properly and is sucking well
- Focus on galactagogue-rich foods: Certain foods such as jeera, ajwain, saunf are scientifically known to help increase lactation. So include these in your diet. Boil them in water and consume that water, or simply mix and grind these to make a churan of sorts and eat that
- Supplement intake: In case, you are still not convinced about lactation, there are some supplements available in the market in both powder and capsule form that can be had to increase lactation. Lactonic and Galact are some of the brands. You can ask your doctor for advice on these
- Consider pumping: Whenever you are away from your baby, make sure you pump and remove the milk so that the body does not get the signal that the milk is not required. Pumping does not have a similar stimulating effect as a baby sucking, but it helps maintain the milk supply anyway
To conclude, go back with the thought that you are the best mother your baby could have!
| Nov 16, 2015
My baby used to feed fr an hour... doze off.. and get up in 10 mins crying loud... I thought his tummy is not full and fed again.. just to realize a week later that I did not have enough milk supply... so it's qte tricky when pple say it's ok if baby feeds fr long... his urine output was fine.. my baby lost 15% of wt post birth.. had to start formula feed Bcoz of that... so mothers plz be aware...
| Nov 17, 2015
Hello mummies. I m new member. My son is 1 mnth old. I hv problem that before someday bf start but it's only about 1 Oz per one time when pumping. My son latching but sleeping while latching. Before bf I gv him powder milk nd it's 4 Oz. So my que is my bf 1 Oz is now enough for my child? BECOZ 4oz powder milk he is taking so... I m confused.
| Nov 20, 2015
.hello all, I feel my milk production is low, as my son doesn't drink for more than 5-10 mins from one side, n dey don't get engorged every time after he has, most of the times my breasts remains soft always.... I m also taking sataavri, n other tablets too... what should I do n also his weight gain is not enough ....though urine output is good. doc saying he is taking only fore milk n nt d he and milk.... BT he doesn't take more than 10 mins.... so he shud I chng his habit. I had to start wid nan pro as he WS staying very cranky ...n his crankshaft ness has improved der after
| Nov 24, 2015
@ megha batula If you think ur baby is taking only foremilk and not the hindmilk, try expressing out the first 10-20ml of ur breastmilk before a feed. You should this only if the baby has gone 3-4hrs between feeds. If you are feeding ur baby every 1-2 hrs then no need to express. The more you feed , the more fat content in ur milk.
| Jan 03, 2016
Thankyou Ankita for such informative blog, I'm new member of this grouo. One of my freind and me too have some resonating experiences off harsh behaviour from our in laws stating that they could fed their children in 5 min and they had enormous amount of milk to feed their children even my frndz mother in law complains that she is feeding her 1 month baby too many times and she has no other work instead of feedong her daughter, all over it she even forces to fee baby goat milk... pathetic becomes the situation to handle. Can you please suggest how to handle such kind of situation anx how to convince them the baby needs a 30-45 min. time for feeding
| Jan 04, 2016
Hi Sakshi, This is more an issue of interpersonal behaviour dynamics. I suggest that you sit and talk to your mom-in-law and tell her that each mother and child is different and that your baby needs 30-45 minutes of feeding. You could share printout of articles with her citing similar points. Or speak to your paediatrician and gynaecologist to talk to your mother-in-law. Sometimes, the mother-in-law just wants to hold her grandchild for long and feels insecure that the mother is keeping the child too much to herself on the pretext of feeding. So, once the feeding is done, let the mom-in-law burp the baby, play with the baby, and get her fill of the child too. The rest you have to possibly accept the fact that they may still not agree. In that case, just be strong and believe that what you are doing for your child is best for him/her. hope this helps.
| Jan 04, 2016
Hii... thank you for ur article ma'am!its v encouraging!!i still have this thought in my mind that my milk is not enough for my 3month old baby. during the 1st month d the doc told me that my baby was underweight nd she ws sucking a lot of air while breast feeding ..so started wd top feed! The doc sugested alternate breast feed n top feed but i try n give her more of breast feed n jus twice top feed ...bt whenever shes on my feed shes cranky, searches fr milk, within an hour evn after proper half an hour of feeding... m having al d things which one would sugest fr increasing lactation.. evn those lactonic granules!!what do i do?? Plz note-during her last chekup she ws 4kg400 gms n birthweight-2kgs 800gms
| Jan 04, 2016
Thank u for d article,dis kind of articles keep motivating al moms. My baby is 3month old his birth weight was 2. 5kg initialy he didnot gained any weight for abt 1nd half month so doc suggestd to giv top feed so i strd giveing hm topfeed (cow milk) for 3times a day nd he startd gaining weight nw his wieght is 3. 8kg but d thg is aftr evry 15-20dayz hez suffering from loosemotions plz tel me wat shd i do i cnnot stop topfeed once i tried formula milk but he didt acceptd it.
| Jan 05, 2016
Very useful tips!My baby is 2 months old and her birth weight was 3. 28kg. She weighed 4. 4 during last visit. Is her weight gain good?She is passing stools only once in 7 days. This makes me think if she is getting enough milk? Also I feed only on demand,at times she doesn't demand even for more than 5 hrs in the night. Is it OK?
| Jan 07, 2016
Hi Ankita. Thank you very much for the post. I have a 3 months old baby. Due to pregnancy I have got piles and fischers. I am taking ayurvedic medicine for it since last few weeks and I am not supposed to eat dairy products or non veg, dry fruits, no roots or leafy vegetables. I am only supposed to eat dal-chawal, cauliflower, bitterguard, ladies finger and in fruits only pomegranate. I can take milk only once a day. Will this diet affect my milk production and nutrition for baby.
| Jan 07, 2016
Hi my baby girl is one month old she feeds for more than 30 mins but will cry in 30 mins itself for breastfeeding. My mother says that u r not producing sufficient milk for the baby that's why she is not sleeping. I'm using lactare granules in milk to produce milk. Please suggest me ankita. What is the reason my baby not sleeping even after feeding.
| Jan 09, 2016
Hi i have a month old baby she was not latching my breasts. So we started top feeds and express milk... But she try to come closer to my breasts for latching.. She drnks for 5 tp men mon and let go ... She doesn't demand for feed quite often does it mean she is getting enough or is there any problem. How often should a month old baby demand for a feed or do i wake her up and feed...
| Jan 12, 2016
My baby is 1 month old and he is not taking breastfeeding from starting. at first I was unable to feed him as I was very much sick after delivery. And now I am trying to feed him at my best but he starts crying when I try to give breastfeeding. He is taking only bottle feeding. As he is a small baby at least 6 month he needs breastfeeding. Plz guide me and suggest what I can do to feed him.
| Jan 15, 2016
Hi all, I have 3 month old baby.. He is on bf from the beginning... I take following to maintain supply 1. Domstal 10 mg.. 2-2-2.. 3 times a day 2. Shatavarex with milk.. 3 times a day 3. Lactare capsules ..2-2-2..3 times a day 4. Halim kheer twice a day 5. Methi ladoo 2 times a day 6. Ajwain-til mixture after evry meal 7. Carom seeds- garlic with ghee mixed in rice Besides this pumping at least once a day and frequent feeding has helped me in maintain and increase supply.. Thanks Samarpita