9 Signs You May Have Low Milk Supply
Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience for both mother and baby, but it’s not always easy. One of the biggest challenges that new moms face is getting enough milk supply. Low milk supply can be caused by many different things, so it’s important to know the signs that you may have a low milk supply. Here are 10 signs that could indicate you have a low milk supply.
1. You notice your baby’s diaper output isn't increasing as they grow
- Day 1 of life you can expect on average, 1 pee and 1 poop.
- Day 2 of life…3 pees and 2 poops.
- Day 3 of life…4 pees and 2 poops.
- Day 4 of life…5 pees and 3 poops.
- Day 5 of life…6 pees and 4 poops.
After the first 5 days, a newborn should have 6-8 wet diapers in 24 hours, while an older baby should have 5-7 per day. If you're noticing your baby's diapers aren't filling up as they should be, then this could be an indication of a low milk supply or an indication that your baby is not able to remove the milk adequately from your breast. Either way, it is time to dig deeper!
Check out my blog on how often newborns should be breastfeeding.
2. Your baby seems fussy after nursing
A hungry or thirsty baby will keep rooting and looking for food even after they’ve finished nursing which could be a sign that they weren’t able to get enough from the breastmilk alone. This can be a tricky one, because a fussy baby does NOT always indicate low supply, in fact, it can sometimes be an indication of oversupply. It is, however, a sign to dig deeper and figure out what may be going on.
3. Your breasts don't feel full before feedings
If your breasts don't feel full before feedings then this could indicate that you may not be producing enough milk for your little one. Experiencing breast changes during pregnancy and newly postpartum is an indication that your breasts are making milk for your baby. If you do not experience changes in fullness or size, it is time to seek out help from an IBCLC to get a more accurate assessment of your situation. Click here to book with one of our team members.
What is IGT? Insufficient glandular tissue (IGT): Some women have a lower amount of glandular tissue in their breasts, which can make it difficult for them to produce enough milk.
4. You don’t hear swallowing or see visible sucking when feeding
If you don't hear any swallowing or see visible sucking when feeding then this could mean that your baby isn't getting enough milk from each feeding session and needs more than what is being produced by your body at the moment. Not sure what exactly that should look like? Check out the clip below. **Please note without a weighted feed with a provider, it is impossible to know for certain how much milk your baby is transferring during a feeding.
What is a weighted feed? A weighted feed, also known as milk weight, is a method used to measure the amount of milk a baby is consuming during breastfeeding or pumping. This is typically done with a special breastfeeding scale that can be used to weigh the baby before and after a feeding, or by using a special container to weigh the milk that is pumped. The difference between the two weights is the amount of milk that the baby consumed.
Check out this reel on coordinated suck patterns.
5. Your baby takes frequent breaks during feedings
Taking frequent breaks during feedings is another sign that your baby may not be able to get enough from the breastmilk alone and needs additional supplementation in order to ensure their nutritional requirements are met adequately. If your baby is continuing to come on and off the breast and is not able to settle into a feeding, it is a sign to dig deeper.
It is NOT always a low milk supply causing a baby to come on and off the breast. A baby with excessive body tension, tongue, and/or lip ties may also come off the breast frequently.
Unfortunately, even with an adequate supply, if a baby is not removing milk, your body will get the message to make less of it.
6. Poor milk transfer
If the baby is not effectively transferring milk, you may not feel the milk being removed. Regardless of the cause of poor milk transfer, it can lead to a low milk supply. Put another way, if your baby can’t latch properly and doesn’t remove the milk from your breasts during feeding, your body will get the message that the milk isn’t needed.
7. You don't feel a letdown when breastfeeding
Letdown occurs when oxytocin is released and causes an increase in blood flow to the mammary glands, so if you don't experience this sensation then it could mean there's not enough oxytocin present in order to stimulate adequate amounts of lactation required by your little one. Not everyone will feel a let-down and that is perfectly normal! Some mamas will only feel let-downs early on in their breastfeeding journey, but the sensation may go away over time and doesn’t necessarily indicate a low supply.
8. You have certain medical conditions and/or medical history -
If you have any of the following as part of your story, it can be hugely beneficial to meet with an IBCLC prior to your baby’s birth. You can set up a game plan to head off any issues and have a better understanding of what to look out for when you are nursing your baby. Book here.
- Hormonal imbalances: Hormonal imbalances, such as low levels of prolactin (the hormone responsible for milk production), can affect milk production.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can affect milk production.
- Surgical history: Women who have had breast surgery may have a harder time breastfeeding and producing milk.
9. Baby isn’t gaining weight or has slow weight gain despite regular feedings
Baby's weight gain should be monitored regularly throughout their first year; if yours isn't showing much improvement even though they are breastfeeding regularly then this may mean there aren’t enough calories being provided through breastmilk alone.
What is normal for newborns and weight loss and gain?
- It is normal for newborns to lose some weight in the first few days after birth. This is because they are losing the fluid they accumulated in utero, during your labor if it was augmented with medication and fluids, and also because they have not yet established an efficient breastfeeding pattern.
- Newborns typically lose about 5-10% of their birth weight in the first few days and regain it within 2-3 weeks. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be re-weighed within 3 to 5 days after birth, and again within 2 weeks, to ensure they are regaining their birth weight and growing properly.
- It is important to note that weight loss alone is not a definitive indicator of adequate milk intake, and it should be considered along with other indicators such as the number of wet and dirty diapers, the baby's overall contentment, and breastfeeding patterns.
Knowing how to spot the signs of low milk supply and the conditions that can lead to low milk supply can help prevent problems down the line for both you and your baby! While each of these signs does not always signal a low milk supply, a medical professional should confirm the diagnosis, they can be a part of the puzzle for you to figure out your breastfeeding journey.
Please consult your medical provider and a knowledgeable IBCLC if you have any questions about your specific feeding journey! With good care, guidance, and practice, breastfeeding can still become a fulfilling experience despite possible complications due to low milk supply! Regardless, take heart knowing that many moms have gone before us and survived! You’ve got this, mama!
Cheering you on, always!!
Boob School Founder and CEO
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