Lots of breastfeeding mothers have concerns about their milk supply, especially if they don’t have
close friends and family members who breastfed to set an example or offer support. If you have a genuine concern that your baby is not getting enough to eat, you should definitely schedule an appointment with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
In the mean time, we’ve noticed a few common culprits when women suspect low milk supply. These issues are easily fixed from home and can make a big difference!
The Observation: My baby gulps down milk from a bottle, so I’m afraid he is starving
Common culprit: Fast flow from the bottle. There is a technique called Paced Bottle Feeding that helps a caregiver more closely mimic breastfeeding and allows a baby to control the speed of a feeding session. Nursing babies take breaks, drink at different speeds, whip their heads around to look at interesting shadows…lots of times, these experiences are missing from a bottle feeding session. Paced bottle feeding can help baby slow down and recognize when he’s feeling full!
The Observation: The quantity of milk I can express with the pump has decreased, so I’m afraid my milk is drying up.
Common culprit: Pump parts! You know how you’re supposed to periodically change your oil and your filters in your vehicle? The same is true of your breast pump parts. Valves, “white flappy things,” and tubing need to be replaced, sometimes as often as every 3 months, depending how frequently you are pumping. If changing out the parts doesn’t yield more milk during pumping, you can also check the motor strength of the pump itself–you might not be getting enough suction to properly drain your breasts.
The Observation: My baby is refusing to latch and seems frustrated, so I’m worried she’s not getting enough milk. (See also: My baby bites my nipple and seems frustrated)
Common culprit: Teeth. Imagine growing teeth. It sounds miserable and painful, doesn’t it? From what I’ve seen with my 3 boys, it is. The appearance of a tooth where there were just empty gums before can change a baby’s latch, the way the breast feels in the mouth. This can take some time to adjust. Sometimes, when a new tooth is emerging, your baby might chomp down on his very favorite comfort source–you! Yikes! This does not necessarily mean your milk supply has been affected. My best response for a teething biter has been to stop the nursing session and offer a chilled teether instead and then try again a bit later.
Did you ever suspect you had a low milk supply and learn there was something else going on that was easily fixed? Leave us a comment to share your experience!