Breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial way to nourish your baby. It provides essential nutrients, antibodies, and a strong bond between you and your infant. However, some moms deal with concerns about their breast milk supply. Understanding the signs of decreasing milk supply and taking appropriate action can help ensure the well-being of both you and your bundle of joy. In this article, we will explore the various signs that indicate your breast milk supply may be diminishing and offer tips on how to address the issue.
What are the Main Signs Your Milk Supply is Decreasing
There are several signs that your milk supply may be decreasing. You may experience only one or two in the list below, or you may notice several at once. Read through this article to see if any of these apply to you.
1. Decreased Diaper Output – Main Sign Your Milk Supply is Decreasing
One of the earliest signs that your breast milk supply may be decreasing is a reduction in your baby’s diaper output. During the first few weeks of life, it’s normal for a newborn to have multiple wet and soiled diapers each day. As breast milk is their primary source of nutrition, a noticeable decrease in diaper changes could be an indicator of reduced milk production.
Related article: Slow Let Down + Baby Frustrated = Stressed Mom
2. Insufficient Weight Gain
A lack of adequate weight gain in your baby can also be a sign of a decreasing milk supply. Regular visits to your pediatrician are crucial to monitor your baby’s growth. If your child is not gaining weight as expected, it may be a signal that they are not receiving enough breast milk. If you have access to a lactation consultant, you can also try a weighted feeding.
Weighted breastfeeding is a method used to assess how much breast milk a baby is transferring during a breastfeeding session. This technique involves measuring the baby’s weight both before and after a nursing session to determine the amount of milk consumed. This method is a valuable tool for addressing breastfeeding challenges and ensuring the baby’s nutritional needs are met through breastfeeding.
Related article: Combination Feeding Pros and Cons – What You Need to Know
3. Shorter Nursing Sessions
Babies typically have longer nursing sessions during the early weeks, but as they grow, the duration of feeds may naturally shorten. However, if your baby consistently has brief, unsatisfying nursing sessions or appears frustrated at the breast, this could could be a sign that your milk supply is decreasing.
Keep in mind that shorter nursing sessions are not a definitive sign of low milk supply. If they are accompanied by other indicators in this article, such as insufficient weight gain, reduced diaper output, or the baby appearing unsatisfied, it could be an issue to consider.
Related article: Can I Reuse Bottles for Second Baby? Yes, But Consider This.
4. Reduced Milk Letdown Sensation
Milk letdown is the reflex that releases milk from your breasts. Some mothers can feel a tingling sensation when this occurs. If you notice a decrease in the frequency or intensity of this sensation, it might suggest a lower milk supply. Consult with a lactation counselor or your healthcare provider if you are experiencing this sign that your milk supply is decreasing. They can evaluate your baby for latch issues such a tongue or lip tie, or can check your hormone levels to ensure everything is normal.
Related article: How to Get a Second Letdown When Pumping – 9 Proven Methods!
5. Decreased Breast Fullness
In the early postpartum weeks, many mothers experience engorged and full breasts. As your milk supply regulates, fullness decreases, but it should not diminish significantly. If your breasts consistently feel soft and less full, this may be a sign that your supply is waning. Your perception of breast fullness can vary over time. Some moms may have a perception that their breasts are not as full as they once were, even if their milk supply is sufficient. This perception can be influenced by a variety of factors, including hormonal changes, the time of day, or other individual factors.
It’s also important to remember that as breastfeeding progresses, it’s common for the breasts to feel less full, particularly between feeds. This change in fullness is part of the natural process of milk supply and demand.
6. Fussiness and Increased Feedings
Babies can become fussy and may want to nurse more often during growth spurts or when they are not satisfied with their feedings. However, if your baby appears irritable, agitated, or constantly hungry even after nursing, it could indicate that they are not receiving enough milk. If you suspect that your baby’s fussiness is related to your milk supply, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional or a lactation consultant. They can assess your baby’s growth, weight gain, diaper output, and feeding patterns to determine whether your milk supply is decreasing.
Related article: How Thick Should Layer of Fat in Breast Milk Be? Find Out Here!
7. Aversion to Nursing
If your baby begins to show aversion to breastfeeding, such as arching their back, crying, or refusing to latch, it might be due to a perceived insufficiency of milk. This can be a sign that they are struggling with feeding, possibly because of a decreasing milk supply. If your baby is bottle fed in addition to being fed at the breast, they may develop a bottle preference. Bottle nipples typically flow faster than the breast. If your baby becomes accustomed to the fast flow of milk from a bottle nipple, they may develop an aversion to the slower flow of milk directly from the breast. We recommend using a slow flow bottle nipple (such as these) the entire time you breastfeed your baby.
It’s important to keep in mind that babies occasionally go through nursing strikes, during which they refuse to breastfeed or appear agitated at the breast. This can happen for various reasons, including teething, illness, or developmental changes and may not be a sign that your milk supply is decreasing.
Related article: 7 Common Foods that Make Breast Milk Taste Bad
8. Pumping Less Milk
If you are pumping in addition to breastfeeding and you notice a decrease in the amount you are pumping, it could be an early indication that your milk supply is decreasing. Keep in mind that the amount you pump is not always an accurate reflection of your overall milk production, as babies are often more effective at removing milk than a breast pump.
However, a decrease in the amount of milk you pump can be an indication of a decreasing milk supply when it’s a consistent and sustained change over a period of time, rather than a temporary or isolated occurrence. If you notice a gradual and ongoing reduction in the amount of milk you are able to pump, it could be a sign that your milk supply is decreasing.
Related article: 8 Pumping at Night Hacks to Make Your Nights Easier!
9. Stress and Lifestyle Factors
Stress and certain lifestyle factors can contribute to a reduced milk supply. High-stress levels, lack of sleep, inadequate hydration, poor nutrition, rapid weight loss, smoking, illness or surgery, and certain medications can all impact milk production. Addressing these factors can help boost your milk supply.
How to Address the Signs Your Milk Supply is Decreasing
If you suspect that your breast milk supply is diminishing, there are steps you can take to address the issue:
- Nurse More Frequently: Offering your baby the breast more often can stimulate increased milk production.
- Practice Skin-to-Skin Contact: Skin-to-skin contact can help increase your milk supply and strengthen the bond between you and your baby.
- Stay Hydrated and Eat Nutritious Foods: Adequate hydration and a balanced diet are essential for maintaining a healthy milk supply.
- Get Adequate Rest: Prioritize rest and sleep to help your body recover and produce more milk.
- Avoid Pacifiers and Bottles: Limit the use of pacifiers and bottles to ensure your baby gets the majority of their nutrition from breastfeeding.
- Consider Lactation Support: Consult a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist for guidance and support in increasing your milk supply.
- Monitor Weight Gain: Regularly track your baby’s weight gain, and consult with your pediatrician if necessary.
- Pumping: Incorporate pumping sessions between feedings to stimulate milk production and store expressed milk for supplemental feedings if needed.
See several of our other articles for additional help with increasing your milk supply:
- How to Increase Breast Milk Supply (Fast!)
- 10 Reasons For A Sudden Drop in Milk Supply & How to Fix It!
- Breastfeeding While On Your Period? 7 Helpful Tips for Your Milk Supply.
- Drop in Milk Supply 4 Months & How to Fix It!
- Breasts Not Responding to Pump Anymore? Try This.
- One Breast Producing Less Milk Than The Other? Mine, Too!
- Pros and Cons of Power Pumping – Everything You Need to Know
- No Letdown When Pumping? Here’s 5 Helpful Tips.
A decrease in breast milk supply can be a huge cause of concern, but recognizing the signs early and taking appropriate action can help improve and maintain a healthy milk supply. Remember that every mother-baby pair is unique, and the key is to adapt strategies that work best for you and your little one. Seek support from healthcare professionals, friends, and family, as breastfeeding challenges are common, and many resources are available to help you overcome them. With patience and dedication, you can continue to provide the best nutrition and care for your baby through breastfeeding.
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