The vast majority of mums who say they have a low milk supply, don’t. This doesn’t mean you aren’t having a difficult time, or that there aren’t ways to support your breastfeeding journey and make you and your baby more content. Your concerns about feeding are ALWAYS valid and should be listened to, never dismissed.
However, it’s really worth knowing these common misconceptions when it comes to the low supply fear (that we ALL get at some point) so that you can rule it out, stop panicking and feel a lot better.
These are NOT Reasons for low supply
My breasts aren’t leaking like they did at the beginning
My breasts feel soft and empty
I have small breasts
I don’t feel the let down sensation anymore
My baby is fussing at the breast like he’s really hungry and frustrated
My baby is waking a lot in the night
When I express nothing comes out
My baby wants to feed all day and all night long
When he feeds it’s for 2 minutes then he’s coming off and crying
When she feeds she just keeps on sucking like she’s hoping some will come out
My baby will still take a bottle after I’ve breastfed
After a feed, my baby won’t ‘go down’
The only reliable indicators are wet/dirty nappies and weight gain. If your baby is pooing and weeing frequently and gaining weight, you are doing a great job.
When our milk supply regulates, our breasts can suddenly feel like empty (or a lot less full) water balloons which, when you are feeding a tiny human with them, can feel terrifying. Many women will resort to ‘formula top ups’ at this stage when actually there is nothing wrong with their milk supply whatsoever.
While it is possible to have a low supply, it’s only the case for 2% of women, so the chances are it’s not you.
One of the most common reasons of the list above is that when you pump you can’t get much milk out. There is a really good reason for this and it’s quite clever. Our bodies are designed to feed our babies, not machines. The smell, touch, sound and sight of your baby reacts with your hormones, releases oxytocin (the love hormone) and your body lets down the milk. Babies smell sooooo good and they are all warm and squishy, much nicer to say the least than a cold, hard, weird looking piece of plastic.
Hopefully you’ve read these 12 points and 1, 2, or even 3 of your concerns have been crossed off and you’re feeling much better.
What if I really do have low supply?
If none of the reasons above are your reasons, and you really do feel like your milk supply is low, try not to worry. I know how upset you must be feeling - so let’s see what your options are.
Latch. First off, it’s always the first place we look. Just because your latch LOOKS good doesn’t mean it IS good. If something doesn’t feel quite right (or even if everything feels ok right now) it is always worth finding a Breastfeeding Councillor or a Lactation Consultant to check for you.
Talk to her about:
Your feeding ‘routine’ - which breast, for how long, when do you switch? Perhaps ask her about ‘Switch Nursing’.
Using a pump to build your supply effectively
Galactagogues - herbal remedies and food that for some women can really boost supply. Maybe they will work for you. i.e Fenugreek, Nettle, blessed thistle…dates, oats…
Your medical situation - in a very small number of women it’s worth discussing medical causes for possible low supply. I.e - how is your thyroid? Have you ever had breast surgery? Do you have Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
I hope this helps you feel a bit better about your breastfeeding. If not, maybe this will. Women can relactate after not breastfeeding at all for several weeks. In most cases your incredible body could send signals to increase supply again.
For reasons WHY your baby is fussing, sleeping less and generally making you feel like the problem is you (we all do it) take a look at the reading below and take heart in the knowledge that it’s most likely just your baby developing normally and while it’s testing, he or she is doing just fine. Remember to check for wet, dirty nappies and weight gain in your baby and pour yourself a cup of tea.
Be kind to yourself, you’re doing a great job.
Some additional suggested reading is below.
“Perceived Insufficient Milk” by Diana Cassar-Uhl, MPH, IBCLC
You’ve Got it In You, by Emma Pickett IBCLC