The number one reason most moms don’t have enough milk? Not draining your breasts often enough. Your breasts are like factories, they work on demand and supply. The more orders that are placed, the more milk that is put into production. When you leave the milk sitting in your breasts, that tells the factory to cease production and shut down. Here are some other common supply busters:
Birth Control Pills can cause lowered milk supply, especially those with estrogen in them, as can Depo-Provera. Some mothers are even sensitive to the hormones in the mini-pill.
Decongestants used for the common cold, such as Sudafed, can cause lowered milk supply in up to 20% women who take it.
Growth Spurts can be a sneaky supply buster. Is your baby asking to breastfeed a whole lot more than usual? If so, he is building up your supply, but it can take a day or two for your breasts to catch up and meanwhile you can’t seem to pump enough for daycare and your stockpile is rapidly diminishing. Growth spurts are normal at around 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. Be prepared and breastfeed as much as possible when you are together.
Illness – If you have you been sick lately with a cold or the flu, you may find that your milk supply is down a bit. Increased breastfeeding, lots of fluids and rest should bring it right back up.
Sage, Peppermint, Wintergreen can also lower milk supply. So watch out near Thanskgiving or if you eat a lot of Altoids.
Overfeeding is a common culprit, especially at child development centers and daycare. Teach your provider to hold your baby, give small, frequent feeds and watch your baby for feeding cues. Here is a wonderful PDF handout to give your provider about How to Bottle-feed the Breastfed Baby.
Pacifiers – If you use a pacifier a lot when you are together you may be sabotaging your milk supply inadvertently. Everytime you use a pacifier instead of breastfeeding, is one less time your breasts are stimulated to make milk. Pacifiers should only be used when you are apart. When you are together, pay attention to your baby and breastfeed!
Return of your period – If you have started menstruating again, the hormones can cause a lowered milk supply in the week leading up to your period. Plan to increase your pumping during that time, and you may find yourself dipping into your stockpile more often during that time of the month.
Sleeping through the night – if your baby has started sleeping through the night you may find your milk supply has taken a nose-dive. The hormones responsible for making milk are at their highest during the nighttime hours, and breastfeeding at night boosts those hormones which in turn boosts your supply. If your baby is sleeping through the night you are missing out on that boost. Consider pumping at least once at night, or waking your baby to breastfeed.
Stress- If you are stressed it can affect your milk supply, and who isn’t stressed in the military? Do your best to leave work at work and relax when at home. Breastfeeding produces a naturally occurring relaxant hormone…enjoy that down-time with your baby and let the hormones do the trick to relax you both after a long day.
Trouble with your pump can also cause milk supply issues. Check that all your valves and membranes are OK, look at your tubing to be sure it doesn’t have any pinpoint holes or cracks. Take your pump to an IBCLC who can check the suction (especially if it is a used pump).