Indications of low milk supply
“Am I making enough breastmilk?” a question new mothers often ask!
Newborns typically feed frequently, every 2 hours in some cases. This is not an indication of low supply. More commonly babies fail to thrive due to difficulties attaching the breast or not breastfeeding for an adequate length of time.
The following are all perfectly normal and are not signs of inadequate milk supply:
❖ Small breasts
❖ Frequent feeds
❖ Waking at night
❖ Long or short feeds
❖ Your breasts feel softer than they did in the early weeks
❖ You can’t express much milk
Because it’s difficult to tell how much your baby might be getting during breastfeeds here are some indications your baby isn’t getting enough milk:
➢ Poor weight gain.
Newborns will commonly lose 5-7% of their initial birth weight within the first week. Some may lose up to 10%. Following this, it is expected they will gain weight as breastfeeding establishes. The aim being back to birth weight by days 10-14. If baby has lost more then 10% of their birth weight and continues to lose weight by day 6, you should seek medical and lactation advice immediately.
➢ Poor output.
The number of wet nappies your baby has in a day is a strong indicator for how much breastmilk they are receiving. In the first few days after birth, they may only have 2-3 wet nappies a day. When your supply has established, 6-8 heavy wet nappies daily should be the aim.
➢ Dehydration & Jaundice.
If your baby has a dry mouth/lips, dark urine and yellowing of the skin or eyes as well as signs of lethargy he/she could be dehydrated.
Possible reasons for low milk supply:
❖ Postpartum Haemorrhage (>500mls blood loss after birth)
❖ Retained Placental products
❖ Insufficient glandular tissue
❖ PCOS, diabetes, or thyroid issues
❖ Previous Breast surgery
If you suspect your baby is not getting enough milk, you should seek medical or lactation advice on tips to improve your supply if possible!
Cover image: @amanda.boserio
Gatti, L., 2008. Maternal Perceptions of Insufficient Milk Supply in Breastfeeding. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 40(4), pp.355-363.
Huang, Y., Lee, J., Huang, C. and Gau, M., 2009. Factors Related to Maternal Perception of Milk Supply While in the Hospital. Journal of Nursing Research, 17(3), pp.179-188.
Ingram, J., Woolridge, M., Greenwood, R. and McGrath, L., 2007. Maternal predictors of early breast milk output. Acta Paediatrica, 88(5), pp.493-499.
Kent, J., Prime, D. and Garbin, C., 2012. Principles for Maintaining or Increasing Breast Milk Production. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing, 41(1), pp.114-121.