While breastfeeding is a natural thing our bodies are made to do, it still can be a challenge. Sometimes we overproduce, while other times we under produce.
Some women simply can’t breastfeed.
Some women have an excellent start with plenty of milk in the beginning, and then it slowly diminishes over hours or a few days.
Don’t worry, it is common and happens to a lot of women. Most of the time, there are plenty of things you can do to get your milk supply back up and running.
It is not a cause for concern. Typically, all you need to do is change some aspects of your lifestyle, and your supply should increase.
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Does a sudden decrease in milk supply mean I Can’t Breastfeed Anymore?
Most often, a drop does not mean you cannot breastfeed anymore. Most of the time, you can fix it with a little change in your life.
In some rare cases, you cannot get your supply back. However, that is not the case for most moms. Typically, it takes 3-5 days to get your supply back.
At any time, you can access a professional who will walk you through your specific concerns with a Certified Lactation Counselor or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
They are experts in breastfeeding and can show you how to build your supply in your particular case
Why Does Milk Supply Drop?
Why did my milk supply suddenly drop? There are many reasons why your milk supply can suddenly drop. Most of the time, it can be a little simple thing that is going on in your life. Here are some of the things that can cause your milk supply to drop.
Lack of Sleep
Lack of sleep is one reason why your supply might drop. While it is hard to sleep when you have a newborn, try taking a nap when you can. When you are sleep deprived, your body has a hard time producing milk, thishelped me sleep better.
Before birth, make a list of 3-5 things that will help you sleep well. If you need to read for 10 minutes, take a hot bath, or have a cup of herbal tea to help you sleep prior to laying down, make a plan to help you sleep.
A written post-partum plan can be helpful to look at regularly for you and your support team to help you get the sleep you need after birth.
The things you eat do affect your milk supply. For example, mint is known to drop your milk supply, along with other herbs. Some foods increase your supply while others decrease.
Be aware of the foods that reduce your supply and eliminate them from your diet. You can also not be eating enough, which can also alter your milk supply.
Along with a post-partum plan for sleep, add in areas like foods you will have available to help you get nourishing foods during breastfeeding.
Suggestions can be low sugar energy bars, beef jerky or apples, and peanut butter. If you make large meals ahead and freeze a portion of them, you can thaw a portion out, to warm up during busy days.
Lack of Water
The less water you drink, the less milk you will produce. Because milk is a liquid, your body will need more than your regular amount of intake. Be sure to always have water near you, or else your milk might suddenly drop. I am terrible at remembering to drink water throughout the day, but this bottle was a game changer.
Stress is one of the leading causes of why your milk will drop. You tend to stress more when you notice your supply dropping, which ends up hurting your supply even more! Stress harms your entire body, including your milk supply.
This is another good reason for a postpartum plan. It gives you a sense of control over your day.
If you have a plan on how you will sleep and eat, and you have others helping you like your partner, your mom, or others who will help you ensure you adhere to your plan; your stress will decrease and your milk supply won’t drop.
Not Nursing on Demand
When you nurse, it tells your body that you need to produce more milk. If you don’t, you will lack the milk your baby needs. Try to nurse when your baby is hungry, not on a schedule. It will help your body to produce effectively.
Skipped Pumping/Feeding Session
Similarly, if you skip a feeding session, then your milk will decrease. Your body needs those sessions to keep up with your milk supply.
The same goes if you are pumping. Missing a session will slowly reduce your supply.
Breastfeeding or pumping 8+ times in 24hours may help keep your supply up.
Power pumping or pumping for 10 min then stopping for 10 min, for one hour two times a day for two days in a row can be helpful to boost your supply.
Have you read: Are you making these breast pumping mistakes?
At certain milestones in your baby’s life, your milk supply might drop. Typically when your baby starts eating solids, they will need less milk; therefore, you will see a drop.
When they start sleeping through the night, you won’t have those feeding sessions, so your supply will drop as well.
Babies go through growth spurts at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 2 months and at 6 months. As well as other times of their first year.
They can eat more often, and for longer periods of time. If you feel like your supply decreases, you can pump 1-3 times a day and finish the feed with your pumped milk in a bottle or spoon-feed.
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The changes in your body can also affect your milk supply. Some women notice a drop in their supply when they get their periods.
When you become pregnant, you can also see a reduction in your supply as your body has more hormones.
The drop in milk supply that is associated with your period can be associated with a drop in blood calcium levels, to overcome this, you can take a calcium/magnesium supplement.
If you decide to try this, you should start taking the supplement when you ovulate generally about two weeks before you’re due for your period.
Look for the combined calcium/magnesium supplement, as that much calcium should never be taken alone.
What to Do When Your Supply Drops
Now that you know so of the things that drop your supply, how do you increase your supply? Often once you realize what is causing the drop, it is an easy fix; simply stop or change what went wrong.
However, here are some other things you can do when you have a sudden drop in milk supply.
How to get your milk supply back
Lots of women find success in power pumping. To adequately power pump, pump for ten minutes, rest for ten and start all over again.
Do this for an hour. You will end up pumping for 30 minutes in total. Try this once a day. This typically jump-starts your milk supply once again.
If you have never pumped before, it can also help increase your supply. Often when your baby eats, they don’t fully empty the breast.
You can try pumping after your baby is finished eating. This helps tell your body to produce more milk — hand expressing helps as well.
Hand expression will increase supply 20-40% more milk, then with just pumping. Hand pumps like the haakkaa pump can help also.
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Get More Sleep
As mentioned earlier, a lack of sleep is a cause in your milk supply dropping. Therefore, you need to try to find time to sleep again, which can be a challenge with a baby.
When your baby naps, try taking a nap with them instead of doing chores. Try to go to bed earlier, find another time you can rest or try this..
Drink More Water
You need to be drinking a lot of water as water plays a significant effect on your milk supply.
Carry a water bottle around with you all the time to ensure you are drinking, this is my favorite. Typically, you will need to drink half your body weight in water, and then drink some more.
Once you do, your supply will increase.
Massage and Warmth
Many women find great success in putting a warm cloth over their breasts before pumping or breastfeeding.
They also find it beneficial to massage their breasts before as well. This helps all the milk ducts to successfully release the milk so more will come in their place.
Massage and warmth also help prevent mastitis and other breast issues. You can do this before and after to make sure all the milk comes out.
No More Pacifier
If your baby likes to suck on a pacifier, substitute your breast instead. This will show your body that your baby wants more milk, and then should produce more. Do this as often as you can, so your supply will increase.
While some foods decrease your milk supply, some increase it. Many find success in lactation cookies. You can find them in many stores, as well as make your own.
For some women, this can have the opposite effect, and decrease supply due to blood sugar instability so just be mindful of that.
Other foods that help increase your milk supply include oatmeal, carrots, fennel, nuts, and ginger.
Make sure you have a well-balanced diet too, eating enough fruits and vegetables. You can also try supplements and lactation tea.
A lot of moms report needing large amounts of tea, like 6-8 cups a day to see an increase. If a galactagogue will work, it will take 2-3 days to see an effect on supply.
However, consult your doctor before use, just in case. Many women find success in drinking coconut water and Gatorade. Vitamins are also a way to increase and help your supply.
Again due to high sugar content, Gatorade may have the opposite effect on breastmilk supply so keep an eye out on the effect on your breastmilk supply
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Because stress has such a significant impact on your milk supply, try to eliminate everything as much stress as possible.
Try to find time to relax, whether that is taking a bath at home, reading a book, or going to the spa, find the time. When you relax and take care of yourself, your body will begin to produce milk again.
Write out the things that are stressing you and eliminate all the little stressors.
Many things can alter your milk supply. However, often, it is a straightforward fix. In a couple of days, you should see your milk supply go back to normal!
Figure out the cause of your sudden drop in milk supply, and then do the things necessary to get it back. You can try one or multiple things until you see your supply come back.
TAKE THE BEST ONLINE BREASTFEEDING CLASS
If you are planning on breastfeeding your baby or even exclusively pumping I would recommend you take the Milkology course.
It goes through everything you need for breastfeeding and how to become a milk pumping pro.
It is a breastfeeding basics online course, suitable for first time breastfeeding moms and old-timers like me.
You can read my Milkology review here.