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Dealing with a Decreasing Milk Supply

There’s a few different strategies we can look at to increase milk supply but first it’s important to get to the root cause of why your milk supply is decreasing or if you really are Dealing with a Decreasing Milk Supply.

Dealing with a Decreasing Milk Supply

Around 12-16 weeks postpartum as your hormones begin to regulate you may notice your milk supply decreases a bit.  There is less of a hormonal push on your milk supply at this stage and it is now based on a supply and demand relationship.  This may be a normal decrease in your supply if you started with a bit of an oversupply.  Read more here about how to tell if your baby is getting enough.

Another time period where you may notice your milk supply decreasing is when you begin menstruating again.  Check out my recent blog with some tips on how to skip the dip in milk supply associated with menstruation. 

A few other reasons your supply may be decreasing:

  1.  Your baby has been sick and has been nursing less frequently or less effectively.
  2. You recently returned to work or have been spending more time away from your baby.
  3. Your pump parts may need to be replaced.
  4. Your baby has a tongue and/or lip tie.

Fill your own cup First

Make sure you are meeting all of your basic needs first Mama. You can’t pour from an empty cup!  Sleep, hydration and nutrition are all essential to support your body to lactate. 

  1.  Find ways to get enough rest.  I don’t just mean ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’.  Reach out to your ‘village’ to help out.  Consider a postpartum doula if your village is small or talk to your local Mama Coach for support with sleep.
  1. Stay hydrated.  For many breastfeeding Mamas it’s recommended to try to drink 3L of water a day.  Try drinking a cup of water every time you sit down to nurse your baby or pump.
  1. Ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs.  Growing a human and giving birth is no small thing!  Your body needs nutrient dense food with lots of protein and healthy fats to heal from birth and support your body to lactate.

But What do you do if your milk supply is decreasing?

  1. The first thing that you should do is reach out to your local Mama Coach.  All of the Mama Coaches are IBCLCs or lactation counsellors.  The sooner you reach out the easier it will be to get things back on track.  We can do an in depth assessment to help you determine the route cause of your milk supply decreasing and find a solution that works for you and your baby.
  1. Work with your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be interfering with lactation.
  1. Power pumping can be a great strategy in many cases to help increase your breastmilk supply.  It mimics the cluster feeding babies do during a growth spurt.  Learn more about power pumping here.  
  1.  Try doing some hand expression after your pumping sessions.  The additional stimulation from hand expression will signal to your body to produce more milk.  Some women find their bodies also respond better and they are able to express more milk with hand expression.  Watch this video to learn how to do hand expression.
  1. Breast compressions while nursing can help increase the amount of milk and especially hind milk that your baby takes in.  When your baby starts to slow their suck, try doing a couple of breast compressions.  Gently squeeze the breast for 5 seconds and work your way all the way around the breast.  Burp your baby and then offer the second breast.
  1. Try hands on pumping.  Do some breast massage and breast compressions while you pump.  This can dramatically increase the amount of milk that you collect during a pumping session.
  1. Switch nursing can be another strategy to help build supply.  Feed on the first side until your baby slows down, try some breast compressions and then switch sides.  After your baby slows down on the second side, again try some breast compressions and then latch your baby back onto the first side again.  This may assist your baby to trigger another letdown on the first side.  You can continue to switch sides as long as your baby remains interested in latching.

Reach out for Support Early in your journey

While there are many different strategies to address a decreasing milk supply, finding and addressing the root cause will save you a lot of time and frustration.  Reach out to your local Mama Coach to assist you to find an evidence based solution that works for you and your baby.

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