Breastfeeding | Why do I have low milk supply?
This episode is brought to you by my brand new early rising ebook. Now, this ebook is every parent's dream if you have fallen victim to the early rise, you know the one, where it is 5.30 am, the monitor goes off, and you have been waking up at this time for such a long time that you don't even know when or how it started.
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In this episode, I am exploring 5 key reasons why you may have a low milk supply.
The whole way that breastfeeding works is that your well-attached baby will completely drain your breast, which signals to your body that the breast needs to be refilled, and so that emptying is the trigger for that hormonal release, and so by emptying the breast, frequently, it's telling your body to create more milk. However, if your baby isn't attached properly, they're not going to be draining the breast properly, which is going to mean there's residual milk left in there, which is going to mean that your body isn't doing as much of that signalling, that new milk needs to be created. So initially this might not be a problem, but when things are more chronic and going on for a longer period of time, then eventually the body adjusts and it makes what it thinks it needs to make to meet the milk requirements of your baby. So the key to breastfeeding success is correct positioning and attachment.
So getting help in getting that right is going to be key to breastfeeding success. So another reason why you may have low milk supply is you might have a sleepy little baby at the breast. So usually this is in the first few days, to weeks of your baby's life, and for whatever reason, whether it was the way they were born, whether it was some medication that perhaps was transferred during the birth process and pain relief, maybe they're a little bit jaundice. There's a variety of reasons as to why your baby might not be attaching well, sucking well, and draining the breast. So like the point above, it's not so much that they might be attached properly. The sleepy baby might initially be attached properly, but it's more the energy and gusto they have to suck strongly and really fully empty that breast. So in this scenario, making sure that you're finding other ways to top your baby up and to continue to empty that breast is going to be key. And working with the whole physiology of breastfeeding and understanding that your breast needs to be completely empty to understand and to send that trigger to your body to create more milk.
Point number three. Now, this is really quite common. And the reason it's so common, the point is, is not feeding often enough. Now in today's culture, and I was guilty of this, is that us mums are looking at clocks rather than our babies to determine when we need to feed them. So I remember doing this with Max, looking at the clock, he was showing me clear hunger cues. Now I've done an episode earlier on hunger cues, so make sure you head back to check that out. So he was showing me these clear hunger cues and so I'd look at this little boy and he was clearly displaying to me that he wanted to feed, but my eyes turned to the clock and went, no, no, you can't be hungry. It hasn't been three hours yet or four hours yet or whatever time. But that's just not the way it works. Babies are hungry when they're hungry, especially when they're tiny and they need to feel that little tummy frequently. So not feeding enough is often a reason why women have low supply and that it eventually teeters off. Again, it all comes back too if the breast isn't emptied frequently enough and fully, then it's going to impact supply long term.
So the next point is that the breast isn't being fully drained. Now obviously I've referred to this many times, but in this particular point, I'm talking about when women are uncertain feeding plans, that they've perhaps read in books where they're encouraged to feed for only a timed amount. So I know there's a popular parenting book out there that will say to breastfeed on the left side for five minutes, the right side for five minutes, and then that's it. Again, this is just not the way it works. Some babies absolutely are super-efficient and will drain a breast really quickly and you know, jobs are done. But for other babies perhaps that have a weaker suck or they're younger or whatever reason is going on, there are so many reasons that can impact the quality of suck. Then this is so not going to work. So the idea is that you actually need to get to understand your baby's suck and swallow pattern because some babies will spend hours on end on the boob if you let them. But looking at the quality of that suck and swallow pattern is the key. In all of this, the underlying message is that sometimes you need to call upon the professionals to get help with all of this. Get an IBCLC, international board-certified lactation consultant in your support team to help you through all of this stuff and to teach you to understand the difference in being able to identify quality sucking versus you know, comfort sucking, and how to know when your baby has fully drained, a breast, et cetera.
Now the final point that I'm going to talk about is medical causes because, despite all of this, there are some reasons as to why you may not be making enough milk. So some of these include insufficient glandular tissue. So if you have always not had a lot of breast tissue, if you didn't notice a lot of breast development during your pregnancy, then sometimes that can indicate that there isn't quite enough of the glandular tissue required to produce milk. This isn't common, but if you are concerned about it, then definitely reach out to an IBCLC to be assessed for that side of things. Other causes are things such as hormonal concerns. So if there are any issues with your hormonal profile, this can throw out milk production. So seeing your GP and getting that checked out is key. And also things like birth control. So if you started taking birth control and then suddenly your milk seems to dry up. Remember that birth control is hormones and the hormones impact breastfeeding. So talk to a GP or an IBCLC about whether the birth control you're on is appropriate for breastfeeding and whether it's in fact maybe the cause of your low milk supply. Anyway, I hope those tips have been helpful. I would love to hear what you think about them over on Instagram @jenbutlerearlyparentingsupport. Head on over and say g'day, tell what you think and I'll be back here again with a brand new episode next week. Thank you so much for joining me today and we'll catch you then.
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