What’s Busting your Breast Milk Production?

Mammals like us humans have the unique ability to nourish our babies through breast milk.  Nature tells us that most mammal mamas produce enough milk to feed their babies adequately.  But humans have been known to mess with nature from time-to-time, which may reduce breast milk production.  Today we’re looking at breast milk production busters so you can avoid low milk supply.

First of all, as a reminder, your supply may not be as low as you think.  Many moms have misconceptions about the state of their milk supplies.  Determining milk supply by the firmness of the breast, let-downs, how much you pump, not leaking, a baby who wants to nurse constantly or a baby who will take a bottle after breastfeeding are not sufficient indicators.  The best way to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk is if he is gaining weight appropriately, has consistent wet and dirty diapers and seems satisfied after most feedings.

If you do find that your breast milk production has slowed, it could be due to several factors:

What’s Busting your Breast Milk Production?

Breast milk production, like other hot commodities, is a game of supply-and-demand.  The more you breastfeed, the more breast milk your body will produce.  Conversely, the less you breastfeed, the less breast milk you will produce.  Therefore, anything that prevents you from breastfeeding your baby regularly and whenever your baby is hungry will reduce breast milk production.

The major impediment to supply-and-demand is supplementing.  Whether its formula or pumped milk, supplementing will train your breasts not to produce the amount of milk your baby needs at any given time.  If you continue supplementing, the cycle will perpetuate and your milk supply will continue to drop or not increase with your baby’s growing demand.

Breastfeeding on demand is the best way not to bust your milk supply.  This allows your baby to determine when he’s hungry and your body will adjust accordingly.  Also, let your baby breastfeed as long as he wants.  Offer both breasts with each feeding to establish good supply on each side.  Sleeping babies often don’t want to wake for feedings, especially newborns.  Some babies will “dream feed,” which is eating while sleeping, which will help ensure your baby eats every 2-3 hours during the day.  Otherwise you may have to employ some drill sergeant tactics to wake your baby for daytime feedings.

Being dehydrated, sick or taking certain medications can bust your breast milk production.  Breast milk has high water content so you’ll need to be hydrated to produce that fabulous milk.  But you don’t have to go overboard.  Drink a normal, healthy amount of water – 8 to 10 glasses a day – to quench your thirst.  Also, consult your doctor and pediatrician before starting new medications as they may interfere with milk supply. If you are sick, discuss alternatives to medications such as clearing sinuses with steam treatments or a netty pot rather than resorting to medication.

Some experts also believe that bottles and pacifiers may result in low milk supply because babies won’t be as efficient on the breast.  Breastfeeding is hard work for babies, whereas sucking on a bottle or a pacifier is relatively easy.  Inefficiently at the breast may reduce supply.  Depending on your situation and your baby, consider waiting to introduce bottles and pacifiers until your breast milk is well established.

Keep your supply healthy and avoid these breast milk production busters!