Why is My Milk Supply Decreasing?

All throughout my breastfeeding journey of 4 amazing years, there were dozens of times that it seemed my supply had dipped suddenly. I think the first time I noticed a drop in my milk supply was when my baby was around 3 months old. This was true for both of my kids. And I can tell you from experience that it can be alarming to think your body isn’t making milk for your baby! However, our Mom Bodies are amazing at regaining that supply!

A lot of my readers have recently been asking me the same questions, so I thought I’d address those concerns about reasons for a low or decreasing milk supply in one quick post. And tell you exactly how I was able to boost my milk supply each time I dealt with a “dip”.

Why the Sudden Drop in Milk Supply?

Okay, this is the part where you’ll need to take a look at what’s been going on in your life recently and decide if any of the following could apply to you.

Your baby's latch changed.Make sure there's no clicking sounds while baby nurses by adjusting your own position to better suit baby's new preferred way of nursing. My babies adopted a new favorite position every few months and I had to adjust too.
You've been busy!It happens! But make sure you're not hurrying through breastfeeding sessions. Remember to wait for baby to pull away. Shortened sessions = less milk is stimulated = low milk supply.
Your period returned!Whenever your period finally comes back, expect your supply to dip. Don't worry though, with a few extra feedings and once the period is over, your
supply will pick right back up.
You're not eating well.Us busy moms sometimes need an extra push to remember to eat healthy. Make sure you're getting plenty of veggies and protein. To boost my supply I devoured lactation oatmeal cookies and fenugreek or fennel, too.
You're not drinking enough!Water that is. I guarantee if you increase how much water you drink throughout the day, you'll see a quick increase in your milk supply. I kept a 32oz bottle on me at all times!
You're pregnant!Not only can your supply drop, but you may also experience nursing aversion, which contributes to fewer or shorter breastfeeding sessions and lower milk supply. So, again, make sure not to hurry sessions and even encourage cluster feeding (Easier for me through the night).
You or baby are sick.Whenever I caught a cold or stomach bug, my supply would dip. And if baby was sick and they nursed less, same thing. Again, just try to keep on track with nursing regularly and eating and
drinking enough and you'll regain yourmilk supply.
You're stressed out or sad.Your mental and emotional state can have a play in your milk supply! If you're sad or stressed, focus on deep
breathing and relaxation techniques before each nursing session.
You aren't embracing cluster feeding!You must must must allow your baby to cluster feed and/or comfort nurse. It's so important to their development and to your milk supply. Read more about cluster feeding once you're done here.
Your baby is eating solids.Around 6 months old many babies start to eat solids and after a year old even more so. That may mean less
breastfeeding, which will reduce your milk supply. Depending on your baby,
that might not be a reason to
worry. He may just need less from younow. But if not, don't worry, he'll want to cluster feed to get that milk back up.

I’m sure you noticed…no matter what the cause, typically the best way to boost your milk supply is by simply breastfeeding your baby and taking care of yourself! So, if none of the above relate to you, try nursing more often! But let me offer more ways to increase your supply next.

How Can I Regain My Milk Supply?

I’ve already said that increasing how much water you drink and eating healthy are two great ways to increase your milk supply. Here are some other methods:

  • Get a lactation tincture, specially designed to increase milk supply. Motherlove makes an alcohol-free blend (Vitacost link) that you simply drop on your tongue or take in a teaspoon of water.
  • Breast massages stimulate the milk ducts to produce more milk. Ever notice your baby “making biscuits” on your boob as he nurses? There’s a tool that stimulates milk ducts (good for clogs too), called the LaVie Breast Massager and as you’ll see in the reviews, it’s been a game changer for other Moms trying to increase their supply!
  • Eat random stuff you never knew could boost breast milk production! LOL Foods like dates, okra and seeds will do. Save this pin which contains more milk boosting food options.
  • Find supplements with galactagogues, which work fast to increase milk supply. These include fenugreek, fennel and garlic. I can’t swallow “horse pills”, though, so I’d go for this liquid (from Vitacost).
  • Make use of a lying-in period. Sign up below and I’ll email you my Lying-In Guide!

Is My Milk Drying Up?

In most cases, no. Drops in your milk supply are going to happen from time to time. Be aware of what’s going on in your life. Is baby going through a growth spurt? Is he teething or sick? In most cases, your milk supply will jump back to normal on its own, simply because you’re still nursing your baby. Try not to over-analyze Mama. Listen to your baby, take care of yourself and have faith that mother nature will take care of the rest!

The one exception I’ve found: When I was about 6 months pregnant and my still-breastfeeding son was around 20 months old, my supply was minimal. In fact, I felt sure he wasn’t really getting any milk! But he was eating regular meals by then and breastfeeding seemed to be more for comfort than nutrition. So I stuck with it, went with the flow, allowing him to nurse as often as he wanted and he never seemed to mind there wasn’t actually milk there.

If you’re baby isn’t quite close to the weaning age and you’re pregnant and concerned that your milk is drying up, definitely try some of the stronger methods I listed above for boosting supply.

And about pumping to increase your supply…

Unless you’ve missed a nursing session or for some reason your baby is going through a nursing strike (which happened to me too), there’s no need to pump. If you do feel like pumping is necessary, do so after your baby breastfeeds for an additional 5-10 minutes. Remember though, milk drawn from breast pumps can be misleading too. It’s not as effective as your baby at getting all the milk out!

How Long Does it Take to Increase Milk Supply?

In my experience, my milk supply returned to normal–no matter the reason for the drop–within one week. Sometimes, using the Fenugreek it only took 1-2 days! But this depends on your situation too. For example, teething can cause babies discomfort while nursing. Even still, this is always temporary and you’ll probably end up in a cluster feeding phase as soon as baby is feeling better, which of course, will increase your supply.

My motto about breastfeeding challenges is GO WITH THE FLOW, no pun intended! This means breastfeeding whenever your child needs/wants to. It also means not panicking when your supply drops. Do what you can, go with your instincts and trust in mother nature!

A final thought:

Typically, when baby is around 2 or 3 months, your milk supply is well established. Therefore, your breasts will probably feel softer than they have since giving birth. This isn’t a sign that your supply has dropped! Your breasts have likely just adapted to the new routine and aren’t overproducing (which is good). This was certainly my experience and I did question my supply, but after missing one nursing session I became super engorged, which was reassuring. Another thing I noticed is that when I was pumping milk after returning to work part time, some days or weeks I pumped less milk (from 3oz each breast to 1.5!). Again, I just kept to my routine and made sure to nurse my baby often when I was home and it wasn’t a problem. Remember, go with the flow!

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