There are many reasons that a breastfeeding mother could experience low milk supply. Some factors stem from the baby and others from the mother.
- Flat or inverted nipples
- Large breasts/small baby
- Breast surgery (augmentation and reduction)
- Scheduled feeds
- Timing feed duration/limiting how long at the breast
- Unrealistic expectations for babies to sleep long stretches
- Retained placenta
- Hormonal imbalance (such as PCOS, thyroid, etc.)
- Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT)
- Autoimmune disease
- Acute or Chronic illness
- Hormonal changes (such as pregnancy or birth control)
- Unethical marketing of formula which leads to further insecurites in mothers
- Tongue tie
- Poor latch
- Sleepy baby (from labor medications, late pre-term, low birth weight, etc.)
- Separation at birth
- Acute or chronic illness
- Birth Defect
- Pacifier use (which can decrease sucking time at the breast)
Once the reason is identified it is usually much easier to increase and maintain adequate milk supply thereafter (or plan for alternative feeding methods). It is also helpful to understand how the body establishes a milk supply. Excellent lactation management is critical in situations where there is already a challenge to breastfeeding. For example, large breasts or inverted nipples do not have to impede breastfeeding, but being aware of their potential problems and compensating for them from the very beginning can make all the difference for a breastfeeding mother’s success.
For information on how to increase milk supply while pumping, click here.
For information on how to increase milk supply while nursing at the breast, click here.