Most moms who breastfeed will at one point or another have a dip in supply. There are many reasons that this can happen and some are easier to rectify than others. In this post we will go over possible reasons why your supply may have dropped as well as a few tips that can help you get it back!
First off, it is important to note that sometimes it may seem that your supply has dipped when really it is just regulating to your baby’s needs. You do not want to be in a constant state of engorgement, so I have found myself toeing a very fine line here. The first few weeks of my breastfeeding journey I found that I would wake with really engorged breasts and practically begged my son to wake up in order to provide some much needed relief. Generally breast milk production ramps up at night and as a result after your baby’s morning feed is a great time to get in a pump session (especially if you are trying to build a freezer supply!). Then as the day would go on my breasts would be softer. Now a few months into breastfeeding I find that my breasts stay about the same softer consistency all day! At first I was worried my supply had tanked and thought “Oh my gosh, my baby has no food!”, my mind started racing through the scenarios of having to supplement with formula and my dreams of exclusively breastfeeding were crumbling before my eyes. So clearly my pregnancy hormones were acting up because if I would have stopped to consider the fact that my son was content after a feed, he was having plenty of wet and dirty diapers and his weight was steadily increasing I would have realized that all was well and there was nothing to fear. These are such important points to ask yourself when in doubt! Your baby will definitely let you know if there is a problem! The three most common issues I have run into where I notice a drop in my supply are:
1.) Not Consuming Enough Food/Water – This has to be #1 on my list…seriously, because this at least in my experience causes a HUGE problem. It is so easy in those first few weeks and months to get caught up in the care of your new bundle of love that you forget to care for yourself! MAKE THIS A PRIORITY. It may seem harmless to skip that mid-day snack or to eat dinner after midnight when baby finally goes down for the count but this lack of calories will really pack a one two punch on your supply. This calorie deficit will cause your body to pull back on milk production and feed you first. It is actually important for a breastfeeding mother to consume about 300 calories more than her normal diet to maintain regular body function and milk production. If you think of it this way, skipping a meal is a HUGE deal! Same goes for water! Drink drink drink and when you are done drinking just sit down and drink some more! Not only will this make you feel better, it will gain you some extra milky points!
2.) Stress – Coming in close behind is stress. This is a hard one…every new parent is stressed, it is so normal and expected! With the change in lifestyle, new demands and care for a precious human being on top of all of your normal daily functions how is it possible to get away from stress in these first few weeks and months? It isn’t easy, that is just the plain truth! Find something that calms you even if only for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. I have found that having my husband take care of our son for 20 minutes while I go soak in a hot bath with my favorite book really helps! Do whatever makes you say “Ahhhh” and run with it! Everyone needs just a few minutes for themselves to stay sane!
3.) Interruption In Feeding Schedule – Whether you are exclusively pumping or nursing directly, it is important to make sure that you are feeding on demand since naturally your body will produce what your baby needs. If you are nursing directly from the breast, your baby takes care of this for you drinking as much as he/she needs each feeding. If you are exclusively pumping OR doing a mix of both this can be a little more tricky. Knowing I would be returning to the workforce I knew that I would need to have my son used to the bottle for the 6 hours that I will not be home to feed him. We started introducing bottles at 3-4 weeks old so he had enough time to get used to nursing. In the morning my breast milk supply is at its highest and so I would feed him and then have a pump session and store the milk in the fridge. Right before laying him down for the evening we would then give him the bottle and I would pump again and freeze the breast milk for future use. This allows me to get him used to the bottle as well as start a freezer stash and as a bonus my body is getting used to the extra amount of milk it needs to produce in order to sustain nursing and bottle feeding in my absence. What it comes down to is making sure that you are not skipping these important feeding/ pumping sessions as your body will think that it needs to produce less.
The good news is there are some extra tricks you can use to help increase milk supply if you do have a particularly stressful day, forget your pump at home or forget to eat dinner because the baby decided to flush your favorite pair of socks down the toilet and now there is water all over the first floor…
4.)Beer – That’s right, I said it…and man is it true! I know what you are thinking and it is likely the same thing that I thought when I heard about this. I can tell you from experience (and I still do this today) that it actually works. The brewer’s yeast in the beer increases milk supply. It is important to note however that alcohol is believed to inhibit the let-down reflex and milk supply so do not over-indulge! I usually enjoy one cold 8 or 16 oz. glass of stout about once a week and I find that my supply is boosted for a few days after! Some may think this is a wives tale and hell I guess maybe it is, but I say enjoy that glass anyway and the darker the better!
5.) Get The Right Bra – Having a well fitting bra is so important when you are breastfeeding! Ill-fitted bras that compress your breasts or have an underwire can wreak havoc on not only your supply, but also can cause clogged ducts which equals no fun at all…so please, do yourself a favor and invest in a nice soft comfy bra and let the ladies breath!
6.) Lactation Cookies – This is one I have not tried myself, however I have heard positive results from my mommy friends! There are a ton of recipes out there that you can try based on your flavor preference! Happy Baking!
As always mamas just remember that fed is best! Whether you are exclusively breastfeeding, pumping and bottle feeding, supplementing with formula or feeding formula exclusively you are doing a wonderful job and your baby is fulfilled.
Check back in soon for more mommy content!
**Please note that these tips are based on my personal experience and may not work for everyone! Please consult your doctor or a lactation specialist when in doubt.**