New moms know that breastmilk is the one thing that their babies need most. And they are constantly terrified that something they do will suddenly decrease breastmilk supply.
In this article I share 12 reasons for decreased breastmilk supply so that new moms can stop worrying and take action to prevent any decrease in breastmilk supply.
What can decrease breastmilk supply?
- Not feeding during the golden hour
Breastfeeding within the first hour after birth is vital.
Without this, the breasts fail to receive the signal that the baby has been born and needs breastmilk.
- Not getting enough skin-to-skin contact
The easiest way to tell the brain to start producing the hormones that are required for breastmilk production is to hold the baby skin to skin for long periods.
If the baby is covered up too much or the mother needs to be completely covered because of lack of privacy, this can decrease skin to skin contact and decrease breastmilk supply.
- Long gaps between feeds
Breastmilk supply is based on the principle ‘Supply when there is Demand’.
Nature’s way to convey demand to the breasts is to make the baby feed for up to 45 mins every 2 hours in the initial weeks.
This means breastfeeding 24X7 – which is exhausting. Do check our blog on overcoming fatigue during breastfeeding.
If concerned family members make attempts to provide some relief to the mother by using a pacifier or formula from a bottle, it conveys decreased demand and can decrease breastmilk supply.
- Not feeding at night
Being parents to a newborn is exhausting. And after a few days of caring for their babies parents desperately want to sleep through the night.
This is possible only if the baby also sleeps.
If formula feeds are started to fill babies up so that they don’t get up in the night crying for a feed, it can decrease breastmilk supply.
- Poor latch
When babies latch on to the nipple instead of the areola – it can cause severe pain to the mother.
If the mother reduces the frequency of feeds to avoid pain – it can decrease breastmilk supply.
- Inadequate emptying of the breast
When new moms are anxious about their babies not getting enough milk – they keep switching between breasts during a feed.
This results in inadequate emptying of both breasts.
The milk left over in the breasts prevents the formation of more milk due to which, breast milk supply can decrease.
- Giving formula feeds to stop crying
When new moms are not supported enough to continue breastfeeding, they often resort to giving formula feeds to stop their babies from crying.
Once babies are full of formula they don’t suckle enough at the breast. This decreases breastmilk supply.
Stress caused by exhaustion, pain and lack of privacy can decrease breastmilk supply.
- Using medicines without consulting the doctor
Many drugs that are used for cough and cold interfere with breastmilk supply.
- Certain foods
Fizzy drinks, tea, coffee, and other energy drinks can decrease breastmilk supply. Check this link to know more about healthy meals while breastfeeding
- Smoking and drinking
Alcohol and Nicotine can interfere with breastmilk supply.
- Mother’s health conditions
Infections, thyroid issues and anaemia decrease breastmilk production.
Under normal circumstances, nature always programs the breasts to produce more milk than the baby needs. If mothers are supported by their families and just allowed to take care of themselves and breastfeed their babies in the initial weeks – they are unlikely to experience a decrease in breast milk supply. Check our article on how to increase breast milk supply.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. She is the author of 6 books on parenting published by Juggernaut Books and her books are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.