Low milk supply is one of the most common reasons for breastfeeding parents to reach out to a lactation consultant. Many new parents are concerned about “not making enough milk”.
Causes for Low Milk Supply
Causes for low milk supply can occur for a variety of reasons and working with a knowledgeable lactation consultant will help sort out what the issue might be and help you create a plan to support the milk production needs. Working with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can be extremely beneficial when certain difficulties arise with a sudden dip in milk production, over-production, mastitis, previous breast surgeries, and clogged milk ducts.
In the early weeks of lactation, milk supply is hormone-driven but once it regulates, it switches over to a “supply and demand” control. This transition occurs about 10 – 12 weeks after delivery.
The more demand that is provided through frequent and consistent milk removal during the first 4-6 weeks after delivery, the more the foundation has been laid to support milk production for the duration of breast/chestfeeding or pumping. Focusing on frequent and consistent milk removal through pumping or nursing is necessary to establish and maintain a milk supply.
Health Conditions Affecting Milk Supply
Health conditions such as PCOS, diabetes, or thyroid disease and experiencing any previous breast surgeries may potentially play a part in a slower onset of milk production or a low milk supply. Having these conditions does not mean milk production won’t happen or won’t be favorable; it means careful oversight and monitoring by an IBCLC before and after delivery is beneficial. This added support can assist with the early identification of milk production challenges and it also identifies if interventions for the parent or baby are indicated.
How to increase milk supply?
Some people choose to take specially formulated herbal supplements or medications to meet their goals with milk production. This process is individualized and should always be tailored to one’s goals, body, and specific healthcare needs.
Scheduling a prenatal lactation consult to discuss any potential health concerns before the baby arrives will be helpful to establish a milk production plan, and following up soon after delivery with an IBCLC to assess milk production and milk transfer will be incredibly beneficial.
During these types of consults, discussion about how to use the electric breast pump and sizing for flange fitting can occur to ensure that when a pump is used, it will also support optimal milk production.
If you are experiencing any signs of low milk supply or have questions or concerns about milk production in general, please book a consultation with our wonderful team of IBCLCs at Lactation Room.