There is really nothing more stressful than trying to figure out breastfeeding. As if pushing out a baby is not hard enough, you then have to quickly learn the ins and outs of how to feed your little one. Many moms have one common concern when they first begin breastfeeding: how much milk should I be making? We often hear moms worry about their breast milk supply, so we put together a list of things that you can do to make sure your little one is getting all the milk that he or she needs!
Why is my milk supply so low? My baby is hungry!
What is a new mama to do when her supply is low? Having a low milk supply is frustrating, to say the least. Am I going to have to stop breastfeeding? Will I have to supplement with formula? These are very common questions that come up for new mamas when their breast milk supply seems to dwindle, though the biggest question that seems to come up is “What am I doing to cause this?” While you cannot and should not blame yourself for a low milk supply, there are some surprising things that can affect your breast milk supply that you should be aware of.
Things that affect your breast milk supply:
- Spices & herbs. Particular spices and herbs are known to cause your supply to decline. Peppermint, parsley, lemon balm, and thyme are ones to avoid. It’s one thing to use them here and there to cook with but it’s another issue if you use them for essential oil application. Read more about breastfeeding superfoods that help boost milk supply!
- Birth control. Be sure to opt for a progestin-only form of birth control, as those with estrogen can be a factor in low milk production.
- Cigarettes. If you smoke, it may be time to kick the habit as it may not only prevent let-down but can also cause health problems for your little one. Read more about the dangers of smoking while breastfeeding.
- Medications. Be aware of what medications you are taking and how they can affect your milk production. Cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine such as Sudafed might be behind your lack of milk supply.
- Formula feeding. Supplement with formula properly. If you do not nurse or pump for every bottle of formula you give your baby, it tells your body to slow down production. Pumping and nursing more often actually tells your body to produce more milk.
Ask for help — Lactation Consultants
Many newborns come out squirmy just wanting to sleep and not knowing how to latch onto the breast correctly. Luckily, there are men and women skilled in the practice of breastfeeding…yes, thank the breastfeeding heavens for lactation consultants! They are extremely useful if you take advantage of them at the hospital. Sometimes your insurance will even cover a private consultation with one. The good news is that latching issues can usually be quickly fixed with the help of a Lactation Consultant. Maybe it was the position you were using to breastfeed or maybe your little one had a tongue-tie — either way, a certified LC can help you get to the bottom of the problem.
Don't feel defeated!
Noticing your breast milk supply decreasing can be alarming. Know that there are ways to boost your milk supply again. Nursing and/or pumping more, staying hydrated and getting some sleep are a just a couple habits that will help your body make more milk. Also, be sure to give your child both breasts and if you have to, consult with your doctor. There are also medications out there that your doctor can prescribe to help jumpstart your milk supply (if it is necessary). You got this, mama!