It is normal for mothers to worry about their milk supply, when they start breast feeding. All mothers are capable of producing enough milk for their babies, however, there are some reasons due to which the milk supply may reduce. The following article provides information about the various reasons which may lead to decrease in the milk supply.
Most mothers feel that the quantity of milk received by their babies during breastfeeding is not sufficient for their babies. However, it happens very rarely that a mother is not able to produce enough milk. In majority of the cases, low milk supply is experienced when the mother does not know how to breastfeed the child. It is true that some simple measures can help prevent this condition. In most cases, the problem may not be ‘low breast milk supply’ but ‘wrong breastfeeding methods’.
- Cigarette smoking is responsible for low prolactin levels, which can cause lower production of breast milk.
- If the child is fed with the help of bottles, it reduces the hunger pangs and this in turn affects baby’s desire to nurse. This affects the milk supply adversely.
- At the time of growth spurts in babies, they may want to feed nonstop. Growth spurts can be noticed in between the first and third week, sixth and eighth week and so on. This may decrease the milk supply for a short period of time.
- When the mother is not around, the babies are fed with the pumped milk. This may also affect the milk supply.
- If the mother is very stressed, if she does not get enough rest or sleep, if she does not follow a nutritious diet, then also, the milk supply can be lower than expected.
- Cracked nipples, development of thrush, plugged ducts, and mastitis (inflammation of the breast) are some of the problems, for which the mother should seek medical attention. These conditions need prompt attention, as they can affect the milk production.
- A clogged milk duct may lead to breast pain, hence, the mother should feed the baby more frequently, so that the duct gets emptied soon. Gentle massage of the breasts can also prevent clogging. It also plays an important role in increasing the milk supply.
- Low production of milk during lactation period can be attributed to low blood calcium levels. Some women may not notice any difference in milk supply at all. But, those who notice may take calcium and magnesium (2:1 ratio) supplements, after consultation with the doctor. This may help boost the milk production.
- Mothers with anemia, thyroid problems, insulin dependent diabetes, breast surgery, pituitary problems, polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity problems, or any other serious illnesses may notice low production of milk. Also, use of certain medications may sometimes lower the milk supply.
- When the baby nurses frequently, the mother may think that the baby is not getting enough milk. But this can be a wrong interpretation, as breast milk is easy to digest (usually digested in 1.5 – 2 hours) and therefore babies need frequent feeding. Mothers should also check whether babies are gaining weight properly.
- Milk supply depends on the amount taken by the baby from the breast, it’s a demand-supply process. When the breast is emptied effectively by the baby, the cells start making more milk. Similarly, if the baby is not feeding frequently, the milk supply will be naturally reduced.
Some foods or herbs can be consumed to increase the milk supply. For example, fenugreek, blessed thistle, or nettle are prescribed to increase the supply of breast milk. Taking into consideration the advantages of breastfeeding, every mother should consult her doctor immediately if she thinks that low breast milk is affecting her baby’s health. Most of the aforementioned conditions are easy to overcome, with proper guidance from a doctor. Also, take necessary steps to keep your baby satiated.