Worried about low milk supply?

breast milk pumpLow milk sup­ply. It’s one of the most com­mon wor­ries of new moth­ers. You can’t see what’s going into the baby, how do you know its enough? Many women wish for cal­ib­rated breasts but even if we had them, they wouldn’t be much use; babies grow and thrive on quite var­ied quant­it­ies of milk, we don’t know how much is optim­al for a three week old or a four month old or even a 2kg baby or a 10kg baby.

What we can say con­fid­ently is that you have enough milk if:

  • After a small ini­tial loss, your baby gains weight appro­pri­ately month by month
  • Your baby has plenty of wet and dirty nap­pies (at least three dirty nap­pies and six wet nap­pies from 4 days to 4 weeks, it’s a bit more vari­able after that)

The fol­low­ing things also don’t sug­gest a prob­lem with milk supply:

  • Your baby feeds very often. Some babies do feed very often and need to because your breasts can’t store enough milk for them to have less fre­quent feeds. Some­times very fre­quent feeds can sug­gest an issue with how easy it is for the baby to get the milk. If you feel like you’re feed­ing all the time, it can be worth seek­ing a review with a specialist.
  • You can’t pump much/any milk. Cer­tainly after the first few weeks, the inab­il­ity to pump doesn’t sug­gest a prob­lem with milk sup­ply. If you need to pump, a breast­feed­ing spe­cial­ist may be able to help you get more milk out. In the early days and weeks an inab­il­ity to express much milk is a red flag and a sign to seek help espe­cially if com­bined with oth­er signs that worry you, like a slow weight gain.
  • Your baby is very unsettled- babies are unsettled for all sorts of reas­ons but rarely because they’re not get­ting enough milk, infact they’re often more unsettled when they’re get­ting lots of milk very fast. An unsettled baby is a reas­on to seek help but not a reas­on to worry about milk supply.

If your baby doesn’t gain weight, loses weight or drops centiles on their weight chart or they don’t have many wet or dirty nap­pies then it is import­ant to find someone to look at the feed­ing. Most of these babies have a prob­lem with get­ting the milk out (Milk trans­fer) rather than milk sup­ply and a skilled prac­ti­tion­er can help with this.

Signs that might sug­gest a low milk sup­ply is at the root of the issue include

  • Hav­ing had no breast growth in preg­nancy or since birth
  • The milk came in very late (after day 5) or not at all
  • You have unusu­ally shaped breasts with a wide space between them
  • You have a his­tory of breast sur­gery par­tic­u­larly breast reduction
  • You had dia­betes before or in pregnancy
  • You have a his­tory of insulin res­ist­ance includ­ing poly­cyst­ic ovari­an syn­drome (PCOS) although lots of women with PCOS have plenty of milk.
  • You had very irreg­u­lar peri­ods in adolescence/early adulthood.
  • You are obese (although again plenty of obese women have lots of milk)

If your baby is strug­gling with weight gain and you have any of the above, you might want to seek help quickly from a specialist.

Are you con­cerned about low milk supply?

Get in touch today!