Find out what to do if you think your milk supply is low when breastfeeding.
If you've decided to breastfeed
your baby, you'll want to know he or she is getting all the nutrients needed to develop and grow. If you feel that your milk supply is low, fortunately there are things you can do to help identify the problem and increase your milk flow.
Why is my milk supply low?
In most cases if you feel that your supply is low it is likely to be down to your baby going through a growth spurt, which will change how much milk he or she needs. The important thing to remember is that your body is built to adjust to your baby's feeding requirements, and so will catch up with how much your baby needs.
The more milk your baby needs, the more you will produce, so if it seems that you don't have enough right now it's very likely that your body is just taking time to adjust to your baby's needs.
It's also important to remember that breast size has no bearing on how much milk you will produce - all women of all sizes will produce milk according to how much your baby needs. The only way you can find out how much your baby needs is to always breastfeed on demand so that your body gets used to your baby's requirements.
How can I tell if baby is getting enough?
The best way to tell if your baby is getting enough milk is to check that he or she is steadily gaining weight. Although babies tend to lose a tiny bit of weight in the first few days after birth, they should then steadily increase in weight as they grow and develop. If your baby is not gaining weight after the first few days it's a good idea to see your GP.
Signs that your baby is getting enough milk include:
- Baby wets his or her nappy 5 to 8 times a day.
- Baby is gaining weight steadily.
- Baby's complexion is bright and healthy-looking.
- Your breasts feel empty and softer after a feed.
In some cases such as if you have had a breast injury it's possible your body may struggle to keep up with your baby's demands. If you are concerned about this it's best to talk it over with your GP.
How can I increase my supply?
If you're still concerned that you're not producing quite enough milk to meet your baby's needs, there are things you can do to help increase it.
- Make sure your baby is feeding for as long as he or she wants, and offer both breasts at each feed.
- If you have leftover milk after baby has finished feeding it may be worth expressing this as it will help stimulate your supply.
- Eat well. Making sure you are eating a well-rounded, healthy diet while breastfeeding will help both you and baby get all the nutrients you need, and can help increase your supply.
- Get plenty of rest. As well as allowing you to spend time and bond with your baby, resting together will help your milk supply stay topped up. Stress and fatigue can contribute to a reduced milk supply so it's really important to try and relax as much as possible.
- Drink lots of water. This will make sure you are properly hydrated and so can produce all the milk you need.
- Cut down on caffeine. As caffeine dehydrates you, it's a good idea to cut back while you're breastfeeding.
- Burp your baby. Making sure to burp your baby after a feed will reduce any feelings of bloating they feel so that they will be ready for the next feed.
If you have concerns about how much milk you're producing, it's a good idea to talk it over with your GP who will be able to help you.