- With Mayo Clinic lactation consultant
Elizabeth LaFleur, R.N.close window
Elizabeth LaFleur, R.N.
Infant and toddler health (7)
- Baby sign language: A good idea?
- Flu shots for kids: Does my child need a flu shot?
- Baby Einstein DVDs: Good for infant development?
- see all in Infant and toddler health
Newborn health (9)
- Induced lactation: Can I breast-feed my adopted baby?
- Low milk supply: What causes it?
- Newborn sleep: Should I wake my baby for feedings?
- see all in Newborn health
Infant health (19)
- Breast-feeding and alcohol: Is it OK to drink?
- Infant formula: Is tap or bottled water better?
- Baby sling: Is it safe?
- see all in Infant health
Toddler health (5)
- Toddler speech development: Are 2-year-olds understandable?
- Terrible twos: Why are 2-year-olds so difficult?
- Discolored baby teeth: A cause for concern?
- see all in Toddler health
Low milk supply: What causes it?
What causes a low milk supply during breast-feeding?
from Elizabeth LaFleur, R.N.
Various factors can cause a low milk supply during breast-feeding, such as waiting too long to start breast-feeding, not breast-feeding often enough, and use of certain medications. Sometimes previous breast surgery affects milk production. Factors such as premature birth, maternal obesity and insulin-dependent diabetes can also affect milk production.
But take heart. Although many women worry about low milk supply, insufficient breast milk production is rare. In fact, most women make one-third more breast milk than their babies typically drink.
To boost milk production:
- Breast-feed as soon as possible. Waiting too long to start breast-feeding can contribute to a low milk supply. Hold your baby skin to skin right after birth and your baby will likely breast-feed within the first hour after delivery.
- Breast-feed often. For the first few weeks, breast-feed your baby at least every two to three hours round-the-clock. Breast-feeding less often can contribute to a low milk supply.
- Be alert to feeding problems. It's OK for your baby to nurse on only one breast at a feeding — but if this happens regularly, your milk supply will decrease. Pump the other breast to relieve pressure and protect your milk supply until your baby begins taking more at each feeding.
- Don't skip breast-feeding sessions. If you spend time away from your baby or choose to give your baby formula, pump your breasts to help protect your milk supply.
- Hold off on the pacifier. If you choose to give your baby a pacifier, consider waiting until four to six weeks after birth. This will give you time to settle into a regular nursing routine and establish your milk supply.
- Use medications with caution. Certain medications decrease milk supply, including medications containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Zyrtec D, others). Your health care provider might also caution against certain types of hormonal contraception, at least until breast-feeding is firmly established.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine. Drinking moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol can decrease milk production. Smoking can have the same effect.
Maintaining your milk supply during breast-feeding is important for your baby's health and growth. If you're concerned about your milk supply or your baby's feedings, talk to your doctor, your baby's doctor or a lactation consultant.Next question
Newborn sleep: Should I wake my baby for feedings?
- Spencer J. Common problems of breastfeeding and weaning. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Stuebe A, et al. Principles of medication use during lactation. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 1, 2012.
- Riordan J, et al. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation. 4th ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Publishers; 2010:92.
- Hale TW. Medications and Mothers' Milk: A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology. 15th ed. Amarillo, Texas: Hale Publishing L.P.; 2012:1.
- Effect of progestin compared with combined oral contraceptive pills on lactation. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2012;119:5.
- Younger Meek J, et al. American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2011:124.
- O'Connor NR, et al. Pacifiers and breastfeeding. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2009;163:378.
- Shelov SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2009:58.