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Breastfeeding women may face issues regarding low milk flow, particularly during the first few days after delivery. To maintain a good milk flow, mothers should start the process at the earliest and breastfeed more frequently. Also, good baby latching ensures effective milk flow.
However, breastfeeding is usually not a concern as new mothers can produce sufficient milk. If you have been facing breastfeeding issues, this post will help you establish a normal milk supply (1).
How To Know If Your Milk Supply Is Low?
Here are some signs that alert the mother about having a low milk supply (2):
- If the baby is weighing less or not gaining enough weight
- If the baby is passing less urine or fewer bowel movements
- If the baby is showing dehydration signs, such as dry mouth, dark urine, or irritability
- If the baby is spending less time to feed
- If the mother is not eating enough food
- If the mother’s water intake is less
What Are The Causes Of Low Milk Supply?
Some possible causes that can lead to low milk supply in mothers (3):
- Oral contraceptives containing estrogen may cause bodily imbalances resulting in low milk supply.
- Smoking and alcohol intake can also affect the amount of milk supply in a mother.
- Recent mastitis (infection of breast tissue) may cause a low milk supply.
- Breast surgery can impact the supply of milk.
- Scheduled breastfeeding
- Inability of the baby to consume breast milk effectively.
- Baby does not feed at frequent intervals (most babies feed at least eight to 12 times daily)
- Baby is unable to latch properly to the breast.
Existing health issues, such as anemia or retained placenta, can also be the reasons for low milk supply, but they are rare.
Way To Increase Breast Milk Supply
If the mother cannot feed sufficient milk to the baby, she has to follow basic measures, such as getting a breast massage, limiting caffeine consumption, quitting smoking, and drinking. Here are some tips to help the mother increase milk supply (4):
- Pumping: This involves the use of a breast pump. The mother is advised to use it on each breast for at least ten minutes. This stimulates the milk flow and results in an increased milk supply.
- Foods: Consuming fruits and vegetables, whole-grain products, low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, and protein-based foods can help. A balanced diet focuses on providing high nutritional value and can improve milk supply.
- Herbal supplements: Also known as galactagogues, these herbs show an effective increase in milk supply. The commonly used one is fenugreek, which can show results when used consistently (5).
- Essential oils: Basil essential oil might help induce a greater supply of milk. You should always use it with a carrier oil to dilute its strength (2). However, there is no solid research to establish a connection between essential oils and milk supply.
- Medication: Healthcare professionals might prescribe certain medications, such as Domperidone, to increase the supply of milk.
Breastfeeding is a continuous chain between demand and supply. As the milk is emptied from the breasts, the body is signaled to produce more milk. If a mother experiences a low milk supply, there is no need to worry about it as there are multiple ways of improving the milk supply. Checking with your healthcare provider about ways to manage and improve breastfeeding would also help.