breastfeeding and milk supplyIt is common for women to feel they are experiencing low milk supply at just the precise moment the female body gets used to feeding. Over-filled, leaky breasts are replaced with breasts that feel near normal and rarely leak. This is not always a sign of low milk supply; it could be a sign that your baby and body have finally reached a common ground with milk supply meeting infant feeding demands. However, there are symptoms of low milk supply women should learn to recognize in order to prevent malnutrition.

Is it Low Milk Supply After All?

Eventually milk production will match infant demand and when that happens many mothers think milk supply is dwindling. If baby is feeding regularly, gaining weight and producing five to six wet diapers or three to four stool diapers every day. Remember, the definition of a wet diaper is equivalent to about three tablespoons of water in a diaper. Baby may wet more than once between diaper changes, especially during naps and overnight.

Low Milk Supply or Increased Hunger

Frequent growth spurts and changes in feeding habits can leave baby hungrier than ever. New mothers should be breastfeeding no less than 10 times per day, though most moms breastfeed more often. Baby will nuzzle and root when hungry, before those cries of hunger ever begin, in most cases. You cannot overfeed a breastfeeding infant, so feed as often as baby desires and your milk supply will adjust accordingly.

Symptoms of Low Milk Supply

If you are experiencing low milk supply you may notice some common symptoms in baby’s activity level, normal feeding habits and diapering habits. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing low milk supply.

  • Fewer than three stools per day
  • Fewer than five wet diapers per day
  • Slow to no weight gain
  • Frequent urges to breastfeed without satiation

Causes of Low Milk Supply
There are various reasons why milk supply does not meet infant feeding needs. The most common cause is improper latching. If baby does not latch properly onto the breast, not enough breast milk is drained from the breast and less breast milk is produced. If baby is latching properly and you notice milk at the corners of the mouth, you should speak with your physician about other possible causes, including:

  • Taking medications that contain pseudoephedrine
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Taking medications that contain estrogen

Other possible causes of low milk supply may include nipple confusion, use of nipple shields, infrequent feedings, offering only one breast and scheduled feedings.

Low milk supply is a rare problem few women experience. If milk production is lower than normal, lifestyle and changes in daily intake of medicines (both prescription and over the counter) may help relieve the problem and return milk production to normal.