When you don’t make enough
If you suspect that you’re not making enough milk for your baby, it can be comforting to know that low milk supply is relatively uncommon, but it does happen — and these moms tell it like it is.
Breastfeeding is a choice more and more moms are making, but as breasts don’t come with ounce markings and they definitely aren’t transparent, you have to rely on other cues to ensure you’re making enough milk for your little one. Having a low milk supply isn’t all that common, but we were able to talk to a few moms who have experienced it.
Do you have enough?
"Babies should gain 4 to 7 ounces per week after their fourth day of life."
Once your milk comes in, usually two to four days after birth, your baby will start having more wet and dirty diapers — five to eight wet diapers per day on average and several bowel movements. Newborns nurse frequently, often 12 times over a 24-hour period. You can get additional insight from listening to your baby — you should be able to hear her swallowing milk. Checking your baby’s weight gain is equally important. According to the La Leche League International, babies should gain 4 to 7 ounces per week after their fourth day of life.
If you suspect your baby isn’t getting the milk she needs from breastfeeding, it’s important to bring it to the attention of a professional. Often, moms report that they are urged to supplement with formula right away, but meeting with a certified lactation consultant first may help you discover other options.
Kelly has three children and told us that with each baby, she’s experienced low milk supply and she felt like she tried everything to boost it back up. “I met with a lactation consultant; tried pumping; ate lactation cookies; used a supplemental nursing system; took fenugreek, blessed thistle and Go-Lacta supplement; drank Mother's Milk Tea and Motherlove More Milk Plus; and used domperidone,” she explained. “I think the fenugreek and blessed thistle supplements and Motherlove products helped the most. I was never able to get to a hundred percent breastfed, so we supplemented with formula. I figured that any amount of breast milk was beneficial, so we found a balance between giving formula and breastfeeding and it has worked out well.”
Becky, a mom of three, noticed that her milk supply started decreasing when she went back to work. “I tried everything from pumping every two hours and nursing him on my lunch break to waking up twice a night to pump (even though Baby was already sleeping through the night) to lactation cookies (they actually worked, but not for forever),” she shared.
Jana, a mom of one, also had supply issues (that were related to an undiagnosed tongue tie), but was able to increase her supply with some help. “I ended up on domperidone to help with supply, which made a huge difference in how quickly I experienced letdown and minimized how hard my son had to work to get milk,” she shared. “I've only recently weaned myself off of it after 12 months — I became kind of superstitious and worried that if I went off, things would go back to the way they were.”
Supplementing with formula isn’t the end of the world, of course. Some moms turn to donor milk for supplementation, but moms who turn to formula, like Kelly, report that they are happy to supply some breast milk, even if they can’t cover it completely.
However, remember that it is always a good idea to investigate whether there is an underlying problem, like latch issues or tongue ties. Sometimes, these can be corrected and, with proper nursing, your supply can go back up.
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