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This is the second part of ‘What Causes Low Milk Supply in Breastfeeding’ series. If you haven’t read the first part, you can read it here.
As we have discussed in previous part, what you do may have serious effect on your milk supply. We have discussed the first 5, and we’ll continue to discuss the rest here. Let’s start..
5 More things YOU DO that may cause low milk supply in breastfeeding
#6 Not correcting baby’s poor latch
This is one of the most frequently cited reason why a mother can have low milk supply. If you recall our milk supply equation, a good milk production needs sufficiently frequent milk removal from breast. But if the baby is poorly latched, he won’t be able to remove milk efficiently.
A typical shallow latch is indicated by baby’s mouth covering only the nipple and not areola. This, will lead to sore nipple (and sometimes bleeding). Note that nipple tenderness is common in early days, but should be gone after the first week.
Here are a few signs that your baby is latched poorly:
- there’s a crease across your nipple or your nipple is oddly shaped after nursing
- there’s a clicking sound when baby is nursing and constant nipple pain while nursing
- your breast seems to be still full even after baby has nursed
And here are some tips to help you latch baby correctly:
- Rather than directing your breast towards baby, aim on bringing your baby up to your breast
- Your baby lips should open wide, flaps out, with lower lips cover more areola. Think of fish lips. If your baby lips are tucked in, the position is incorrect. Unlatch the baby and try to latch again
- Rather than aiming the nipple to baby’s mouth, aim baby’s nose. This way, baby will take more areola with his lower lips
Videos are great to visualize a good and poor latch. Dr Jack Newmann has a collection of breastfeeding videos describing both good latch and poor latch.
To read more resources and illustration on baby’s latch, check Kellymom’s article here.
#7 Not waking up your baby for nursing
The baby is crying. You put him on breast. He sucks a little, but doze off quickly.
Looking at his peaceful face, you don’t dare to wake him up. So there he is, sleeping at your breast.
But the moment you try to detach your nipple out, he’s waking up and looking for your nipple again. But not long after that, he falls asleep again.
And the cycle goes on and on…
Does the scene sounds familiar to you?
My baby was like that, both of them. They are sleepy at the first place, which is pretty common in early days of newborn.
So, we need to wake them up. I know, I know, it is not easy. And it is difficult to resist the temptation for letting them sleep.
But if you let them sleep now, they won’t get nursed enough. And then, your breast does not get frequent enough stimulation, and it will start cutting down the milk production.
So, remember, don’t let your baby sleep at breast. Wake them up, let them suck until you see that they are swallowing milk, not just nibbling on your breast.
#8 Something on your FOOD may reduce milk production
There are some food and herbs which are known to cut back milk production.
Do you remember the story of husband making soup for the wife post delivery (read the post here)?
Sage is one of the herbs, that can cut back milk supply. Peppermint, parsley are some others. While these herbs should not decrease the milk supply drastically if taken in small amount, heavy use or regular use of these herbs should be avoided.
One mother actually reported a sudden decrease of milk supply, which turned out to be because she ate peppermint candy cane during holiday season. Kellymom has summarized a lists of herbs to be used cautiously when you are nursing. Click here to see what they are.
Just like food, there are several medications that hinders milk production. Examples would be Bromocriptine (Parlodel) and bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zybran). Pseudoephedrine (commonly found in Sudafed and allergy or cold medication) may also cause lactation problem.
It is a best practice to check whether a medication will affect your milk production. You can download whether a medication may affect your supply at LactMed or download LactMed apps (iTunes or GooglePlay) to check whether certain medication is safe and does not affect milk production.
Additionally, bear in mind that hormonal-based medication such as birth control may have effect on your milk supply as well. The book ‘A breastfeeding mother’s guide to making more milk’ has a section that discusses this in detail. Learn more about this book here.
Cigarettes contains nicotine, which inhibit prolactin secretion and milk production.
In a study of smoking/non-smoking mothers of premature babies, it has been shown that at two weeks mark, non-smoking mothers produced 25% more milk compared to smoking ones, and further increases by 20% at four weeks while there are no significant increase in smoking mothers’ milk production.
So if you are smoking, consider to gradually taper it off before baby is born so that your baby gains more benefit from better milk production.
Alright, so this wraps up the 10 possible causes of low milk supply from point of view of ‘What You Do’. (If you miss out the first 5, check them out here ).
In the last part of this ‘What Causes Low Milk Supply in Breastfeeding’ series, I’ll discuss on causes of low milk supply from your baby’s anatomy and your body. Stay tuned!
Have you identify what causes your milk supply drop from the 10 causes I’ve discussed here and in the first article? Most mothers found their problem in what they do, so maybe you too.
If you haven’t, pay attention to part 3 of this series. Perhaps you’ll find your answer there.
If you have a friends or relatives struggling with low milk supply, please share this article to them. By helping them identifying the cause of low milk supply, you are helping them to achieve a better breastfeeding experience.
Have you experienced low milk supply before? Tell me your story in the comments.