As much as most women would like to breastfeed exclusively for six months, sometimes they experience low milk production. This low milk production can impact the infant’s development as breast milk is highly nutritious and boost body immunity.
However, this should not be a concern because, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), roughly 75% of new moms initially breastfeed their infants, although many do so just partially or not after the first few months.
Fear of insufficient milk production is one of the most popular explanations for this.
Possible causes of low milk production in Breastfeeding mothers.
1. Feeling stressed or anxious
Decreased milk production after delivery is mostly caused by stress. Increased hormone levels such as cortisol, lack of sleep, and adjusting to the baby’s schedule can all significantly lower your milk production. As a result of stress, there are women who go from producing a lot of milk to practically none in less than a day.
A baby’s mental health is crucial for providing for them. It’s crucial to get in touch with your healthcare practitioner and receive the necessary treatment if you or a loved one discover that you are exhibiting signs of stress, anxiety, or postpartum depression.
Although many new mothers desire to handle everything independently, it’s crucial to ask for and accept assistance from your partner, family, and friends so you can relax, recuperate, and continue to produce enough milk for your baby. They cannot breastfeed children but can assist with cooking, laundry, housework, and errands.
2. Hormonal or endocrine problems
Hormonal signals sent to the breasts are crucial in breast milk production. Suppose you have hypertension (high blood pressure), a low or high thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, or hormonal issues that make conception difficult; in that case, it could reduce the amount of breast milk you produce.
Your milk supply will increase when your health issue is treated, though supplementation may be necessary. You can find a strategy that will work with your particular circumstance by speaking with a lactation consultant or visiting a breastfeeding clinic.
3. Using hormonal birth control
Most women using hormonal birth control do not report any changes in milk production. However, some women may significantly decrease milk production when using any hormonal type of birth control, including injections, patches, or pills.
In as much as it can occur later, using contraceptives before the infant is four months old can stimulate it. Stopping the medication is the first step in raising your milk production, but consult your doctor first and be ready to switch birth control techniques. Some moms require additional assistance (such as breast pumping, herbal supplements, and/or, prescription drugs) to increase milk production.
4. Previous breast surgery
Justification of breast surgery can use both cosmetic and medicinal reasons. For instance, breast enlargements or reductions are becoming more prevalent.
Nipple piercings (which harm the nipple’s milk ducts) can also be viewed as a form of breast surgery.
Depending on how much time has passed since the surgery, how much time passed between the baby’s birth and the surgery, how the procedure was carried out, and whether any complications could have resulted in scarring or damage to the breasts, the extent to which these procedures affect breastfeeding varies greatly.
Some mothers, especially those who get breast enlargements rather than reductions, have a higher chance to breastfeed their infants exclusively with no problems. Others may be required to provide additional assistance.
5. Low glandular tissue
For various reasons, some women’s breasts may have inadequate “milk-making” ducts to feed their unborn children best as they don’t grow regularly. However, breastfeeding encourages the formation of new ducts and tissue and the ducts expand during each pregnancy, therefore, this may be less of an issue with a second or third baby.
6. Anatomical issues or sucking difficulties
The issue might not be insufficient milk supply; instead, it might be a baby’s tongue tie, making it difficult to suck milk from your breasts.
It indicates that the baby’s tongue is being held excessively tightly by the thin tissue membrane at the bottom of his mouth, making it difficult for him to draw out the milk correctly. (A baby doesn’t draw the milk out of your breast, he uses his tongue to help squeeze the breast and force the milk into his mouth). While this is frequently reasonably obvious, in other infants, the limiting membrane is located towards the rear of the tongue and is more difficult to spot.
When your baby is sobbing, see whether he can touch his tongue to the roof of his mouth, and if over his bottom lip, he can stick his tongue out. A doctor can cut the membrane if your infant is tongue-tied, and their ability to nurse will recover fast. If you believe your infant is having trouble sucking, consult a specialist or doctor.
Other issues (such as cleft lip and palate) can also make swallowing difficult for your kid.
7. Jaundice or birth medications
Some studies indicate that the effects of Demerol and other labor-related drugs can persist for up to a month, depending on how long the mother received it, and the medicine used in the epidural. These medicines can interfere with the baby’s ability to successfully breastfeed and latch on.
Jaundice, a common neonatal illness, prevent the baby from waking up as frequently as the mother; it can make them sleepier than usual. You might need to pump your milk for a sufficient supply in either situation. Your baby will likely start nursing successfully once the drugs have left his system and jaundice has been cured, allowing you to reduce and finally quit pumping.
8. Eating or drinking too little
After giving birth, it can be tempting to diet to lose “baby weight.” Ensure that you consume enough food to replace the 500 calories that nursing consumes daily. Think about having a nutritious snack to fill the calorie gap between meals.
Getting enough water is also essential for producing breast milk. Breast milk production is influenced by the amount of liquid you consume. I advise mothers to keep a bottle of water in their diaper bags.
9. Giving a baby a pacifier in between feedings and/or scheduling feedings
How quickly breasts produce milk depends on how empty they are. When they are almost empty, you’ll produce more milk, and when they are full, less.
Your breasts are fuller for more extended periods when your baby is rarely feeding, such as when you are giving him a dummy/ soother to increase the time between feedings or when you have put them on a three- or four-hour schedule. That indicates a decrease in milk output.
When mothers breastfeed their kids following their cues, the feedings are typically shorter and more frequent, leaving the breasts mostly empty and allowing for ample milk production.
10. Getting pregnant again
The hormones of a second pregnancy may reduce your milk production if you become pregnant while still breastfeeding.
Recognize that while you are pregnant, there isn’t much you can do to enhance your milk production.
If the child you’re breastfeeding is younger than a year old, consider adding infant formula as a supplement. Supplementation may not be necessary for children over a year old who obtain enough nourishment from solid foods.
Consult your baby’s pediatrician about the requirements for your nursing child.
11. Failing to feed the baby at night
While some families succeed with the sleep-training techniques described in books and programs to help newborns stay asleep longer at night between feedings, the loss of those nighttime feedings, for some babies, can result in weight gain issues. This is due to mothers’ varying capacities for storing milk in their breasts between feedings. When they don’t get fed overnight, their milk production decreases.
During night feedings, the hormone prolactin, which tells the breasts to start producing milk, is also at a higher level; therefore, a decline in milk may also be caused by a reduction in prolactin levels overall.
More sleep is enticing, but those nocturnal feedings are necessary for many moms to prevent poor milk supply. Consider resuming one- or two-night feedings if you see that your milk supply is declining and have started sleep training.
12. Taking some medicines or herbs
Your milk may be impacted by bromocriptine, methergine, pseudoephedrine (an active component in comparable cold medicines and Sudafed), or significant doses of peppermint, parsley, or sage.
Ask your doctor about other courses of medication/treatment for your health issue or cold if you notice a decrease in your milk production and realize you’ve been taking one of the medications on this list. Increase your milk production by nursing more frequently and pumping as well.
13. Taking so much caffeine
Caffeine in excessive doses might cause dehydration and reduce breast milk production. You will transfer a portion of the caffeine you consume to your baby through breast milk, where it may accumulate and cause irritability and sleep issues in your child. Your supply may suffer if your infant is cranky, not latching on well, and encouraging breast milk production.
14. Smoking cigarettes and taking alcohol
Smoking can prevent your body from releasing oxytocin. The hormone that activates the let-down response is oxytocin. Breast milk is expelled from your breasts due to the let-down reflex. If you don’t let your breast milk come out, it won’t drain out of your breasts and encourage your body to make more.
Similar to smoking, alcohol can interfere with the let-down response. You won’t produce as much breast milk if your infant breastfeeds less frequently.
Alcohol can damage your capacity to care for your child’s needs and reduce breast milk production. It can harm your baby’s development by passing through your milk and causing developmental delays.
When given formula supplements, your baby will naturally eat less at the breast, and your they will produce less milk. Therefore, formula supplements fool your breasts into lowering the milk produced as they are not emptied as they should, especially during the first few weeks.
Both pumping and nursing can support increased milk production if supplementing is required. Pumping throughout the day at regular feeding times, even if the infant is not eating, instructs the body to continue producing.
Ways to increase breast milk
There are things you can do to boost your milk production
- Speak to your doctor and a breastfeeding expert about taking a prescription medication and pumping.
- Supplement a poor milk supply with formula.
Even a tiny bit of your milk will boost your child’s nutritional requirements, and, immune system. It will also encourage brain development thus it’s worth the effort to keep breastfeeding.