Babies need food to fuel their little growing bodies. But what if you are breastfeeding and your milk production seems to be unable to keep up with your baby’s needs? It is common for new moms to be concerned about low milk supply. Many women wonder how to increase milk supply, often when there is not a problem. Thankfully, whether your supply is truly low or not, there are a number of ways you can tell if your supply is low before you get started trying to increase it. But keep in mind that mother nature often has a way of working things out on her own and your supply may be just fine!
How To Tell If Your Milk Supply May Be Low
As you know, babies cannot string together a sentence to let you know, “Mommy, I need more food!” So how do you know when your milk supply is low? There are some important clues that your little one can give you to let you know what is going on. Below are some of the common signs of low milk supply:
Stalled weight gain: Babies typically lose up to 10 percent of their birth weight within the first few days after birth, but they should regain that by the 2-week mark. If your baby is struggling to add those pounds back, you may have a low supply. However, sometimes babies just grow slowly so this is not always the case.
Less dirty diapers: Your baby should wet the same number of diapers as her age in days for the first few days. This means a 3 day old should dirty three diapers. Once your baby reaches about 5 days old, if he is well fed, he can be expected to produce at least four to six wet diapers. Other signifiers of a solid milk supply include light yellow or colorless pee and poop that is seedy and mustard-colored.
Decrease in activity: If a baby is not getting enough food to eat, he is often lethargic. He may sleep a lot or be less active when awake. He may also lose that chubby baby look, looking thin as his body uses energy from stored fat to power his little brain, glands, and organs. Trust your instincts as a parent on this and always reach out to a pediatrician if you are concerned.
What Causes Low Milk Supply?
Below are the two most common reasons moms experience low breast milk supply:
Ineffective Latch: An ineffective latch is a common problem among new moms and babies when it comes to low milk supply. Babies with an improper latch on the breast do not adequately draw enough milk out to eat. Your breasts produce on a supply-and-demand system, meaning if your child drinks 15 ounces of milk a day, that is what your body will produce. If your child has less than he needs due to an ineffective latch, your body may grow used to making less than he needs. Reach out to a lactation consultant or pediatrician if you are concerned about your baby’s latch.
Not Feeding Enough: Another common reason for low milk supply is due to babies not getting enough feedings. Newborn babies are sleepy and many parents fear to wake them to eat, resulting in fewer feedings per day than necessary. Your newborn should breastfeed eight to 12 times a day, which is about every two or three hours. If you are not feeding this frequently, consider bumping up the feedings.
If you are concerned you have a low milk supply, talk with your baby’s pediatrician to find out if your child is not on track. If you need help boosting your supply, talk with a lactation consultant. In the meantime, get plenty of water and consider adding oatmeal, flaxseed and brewer’s yeast to your diet to boost your milk supply.