4 Reasons Why Breast Milk Supply Decreases
Breast milk is termed as the perfect food for infants and babies as it contains all the necessary nutrients required for development and is customised from mother to her baby. It provides antioxidants, strengthens immunity and promotes gut health.
Fathers can do their part to support their partners on the breastfeeding journey, which can do wonders in terms of father-and-child bonding, and letting mums know they are not alone.
Some mothers may feel frustrated when their breastmilk supply dips, and here are some reasons why.
Mothers who direct latch exclusively may experience a temporary dip in supply if they miss a feed and do not express out the milk.
- Issues with Latching
Improper latching techniques could result in your baby being unable to efficiently extract out the milk from your breasts. When milk is not emptied frequently, supply decreases.
There are various breastfeeding positions which you can try out, such as the football hold or side-lying position. Ensure that your baby’s mouth is wide open and fully covers the areola instead of only on the nipple.
Some mothers may have inverted or flat nipples which could possibly impede their baby’s ability to suckle. For this, there are nipple pullers that can be used to gently ease the nipple outwards.
Sometimes, the infant may have issues with nursing too. Tongue or lip ties affect the way infants suckle and could prevent them from nursing efficiently. As a result, they may get tired before they are full.
After giving birth, your body struggles to regulate and you may suffer from postnatal blues. Combined with all that well meaning advice from relatives and friends that tend to be contradicting to your own beliefs, you could find yourself under a lot of stress.
Stress – physical, emotional and psychological, can cause your breast milk supply to dip. Stress can come from various sources, such as work, family, financial difficulties, physical health and lack of sleep.
If you feel worried about breastfeeding in front of others, use a nursing cover or bring your baby into a locked room for privacy. If you’re feeling stressed, take deep breaths to clear your mind and most importantly, find someone you can talk to about your feelings.
However, the interesting thing is that breastfeeding has actually been shown to reduce negative moods and stress!
- Not feeding frequently enough
Rather than sticking to a fixed schedule for feeds, if you are breastfeeding, it is more important to observe your baby’s hunger cues and feed accordingly. Although you will not be able to know the exact amount that your baby drinks, you can take note of the amount of wet diapers that they produce.
Breast milk works on a supply and demand basis. The more demand there is, there will be more supply. When milk is not emptied frequently, new milk cannot be produced as there is not enough space. This can also cause other problems such as engorgement, blocked ducts and so on.
If you do experience some of these common breastfeeding issues, do consult a lactation consultant to advise with massage techniques to get engorgement and blocked ducts out of the way. Else, it may lead to mastitis which comes with fever and body aches.
- Not drinking enough water
Breast milk is made of 90% water, thus is it important to ensure that you take in enough liquids to supplement your supply. As caffeine is a diuretic, aim to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of non-caffeinated drinks a day, or more if you can manage it.
Galactagogues are foods which have a positive effect on breast milk supply. If you are facing problems with supply, you may want to try these foods which can help increase milk supply in lactating mothers.
While there are a host of benefits to both mother and baby, your mental and emotional health should take precedence above breastfeeding. Take sufficient rests to boost your mood as well.
As long as your baby is fed, happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. Formula milk for infants and children are readily available for sale at supermarkets if you really have to get away for some fresh air and are unable to express breast milk for your baby.
What are some of the problems you have experienced when breastfeeding? Share your stories in the comments!