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Low milk supply, Why and what can be done to fix it ?

This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)

Introduction

With changing lifestyle and environment, the cost is being paid by our body and health.
There has been a significant increase in number of mothers with low milk supply or no supply at all.

Breast milk is one of the nature’s most beautiful way of bonding and providing our little ones all the dietary nutrients required and helps in bonding. Its nature’s customized way of providing whats the best our baby (its content is different in the morning, afternoon and evening.)

Alert signs:

• Milk supply is below 12oz for 3-4 consecutive days

• If your daily production of milk is not at least 16 ounces of milk by end of 7-10 postpartum day.

• Milk supply drops each day for 3/4 consecutive days.

• Fuzzy baby after feeds

• Lesser number of wet diapers (6-8 diapers/day)

Causes of low milk supply:

• Premature

• Low birth weight

• Cesarean surgery

• Postpartum hemorrhage

• Poor suckling

• Poor latch

• Starting off late with breastfeeding

• Hormonal issues

• Pregnancy induced HTN

• Pregnancy induced DM

• Maternal obesity

• Skipping breast feeding sessions

• Starting off with a pacifier at early age

• Use of certain medicines (pseudoephedrine)

• Consumption of alcohol and nicotine

• Using birth control pills

• Too much of caffeine

• Dehydration

• Stress

• Post partum depression

• Hypothyroidism

• Lack of sleep

• polycystic ovarian syndrome

• mammary hypoplasia

• Previous breast surgeries or breast trauma

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Signs which indicate baby is adequately fed

• Baby’s cheeks are full while feeding and are not sucked in.

• baby releases on their own from your breast or falls asleep.

• Baby appears happy and content after taking feeds.

• Look and listen your baby swallow during feed.

• Your breasts feel soft/ empty after feeding.

• Keep baby’s diapers, wet diapers are a good sign !

Remedies:

• Proper latching of the baby

1. The chin of baby should be touching your breast enabling him/her to breathe through the nose.

2. Make sure the mouth is open wide and the baby is taking mouthful of your areola (not just the nipple)

3. Latching should not be hurtful for you

4. Starting with short sucks and then proceeds to rapid sucks to stimulate let-down reflex (milk flow), this should be more of a tugging kind of feeling.

5. Look for baby’s jaw moving, listen to the sucking noise and swallowing as the baby feeds.

6. If you have flat or inverted nipples which causes difficulty for your baby to latch, one can use nipple formers (medela has good ones).

7. Most importantly sit comfortably , use pillows for back support and then arm/feeding pillows for a comfortable feeding session. Wear comfortable maternity/breastfeeding clothes which make things very easy for both mother and baby.

• Right after birth of the baby we should breastfed the baby once handed over to us by the doctor.

• Professional breast pumps can be used in case of poor suckling by the baby (low birth weight or premature) or in case of low supply. These pumps have stronger vaccum mechanism and help in the better let down mechanism. (Remember, don’t stress about it)

• Regular 2 hour breast pumping (10-12 times/day, especially the night session because prolactin hormone levels are the highest at the this hour) helps in achieving a proper milk supply. Be religious to your pumping schedule , its trying but fruitful !

• One can try different types of galactagogues like oatmeal cookies or simple oatmeal, fenugreek seeks and glass of milk in the early morning

• Drink loads of water

• Cut down on caffeine

• Message your breast and try latching the baby again and again, Don’t give up easily.

• Even if baby cant suckle properly, let the baby try and then pump out the rest of the breast milk.

• Sometimes prescription medicines (domperidone) are used to assist with increasing milk supply; these are available from your doctor.

One of the most essential part during breast-feeding is maintaining the milk supply since it plays a very important role in growth and health of your baby. If there are any concerns regarding the milk supply or difficulties with breastfeeding your baby, please contact your doctor, paediatrician or a lactation consultant immediately.

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