Mother’s milk is very important for newborns. It contains nutrients, antibodies, enzymes, sugars, and hormones which nourishes a baby until they can eat proper food.
Experts are still discovering more and more composites of this liquid. One interesting fact though, is that the milk comes in different layers. Immediately after birth, a mom will produce colostrum, which is a thick sticky almost clear fluid. The mom normally produces small quantities of it because a baby’s stomach after birth is usually the size of a marble. It is also very easy for the baby to digest. This milk mostly contains antibodies and WBC to help baby fight infections.
After a few days, the colostrum will turn into transitional milk. After a month, a mother will produce mature milk, which is even richer in nutrients. However, while moms are feeding their little ones, they will notice that the first fluid coming out will be watery then as she continues to feed the baby, the milk will become thicker and yellowish in color. The former is a foremilk while the latter is the hindmilk.
Having noted the importance of this milk, moms need to keep their supply levels up and in order to do this they must avoid doing the following;
20. WAITING TOO LONG TO START BREASTFEEDING
There are times when mom has to wait for some time before she can start nursing soon after birth. For example, if she develops mastitis, a bacterial infection of the chest tissue, she has to undergo some treatment first before the baby can feed. If the baby is also born with a genetic condition referred to as tongue-tie, she has to wait because the baby cannot feed without tongue movement.
The baby has to undergo a simple procedure called a frenotomy, to release the tongue. In both cases, mom has to wait, and the longer she waits the harder it is to stimulate milk and this will also lower her milk supply, as noted by todaysparents.com. Some moms are able to keep their supply up thereafter while others have no choice but to formula feed.
19. MISSING A PUMPING OR FEEDING SESSION
Moms who pump milk regularly can decrease their milk supply when they skip a session. Mom’s milk production follows the rule of supply and demand. If mom misses a feed or is unable to pump her milk, she is telling her body that it does not need to make more milk as there is already enough stock.
This interferes with the cycle, causing a decline in the milk supply. Missing once may not have such a great impact but according to verywellfamily.com, moms should nurse or feed their little ones after every three hours to stimulate their milk supply and keep it regular.
18. GETTING STRESSED AND FATIGUE
Constant stress and fatigue can actually decrease a mother’s supply of milk. A few causes of stress include a colic baby, anxiety, financial difficulties, and sickness. At the same time, moms want to juggle caring for the baby with cleaning and organizing around the home.
It is also very easy for new moms to forget about themselves when they give birth and at times, this can build up fatigue. Moms should learn to prioritize and delegate. As advised by clarkscondensed.com, new moms need to find ways of eliminating the cause of their stress in order to replenish their milk supply. Using relaxation techniques and sneaking in some extra sleep can also help.
17. INTRODUCING SOLIDS TO BABY
At around six months, moms may introduce their little ones to solid foods and because the babies are now not depending on mom’s milk alone, its supply can decline. However, according to livingwithlowmilksupply.com, introducing solids is not supposed to decrease milk supply.
At the very beginning, solids are supposed to complement the milk — not to replace it. However, there are cases where the baby will feed well on the solids and end up nursing less. To keep the supply constant, moms should nurse the babies first then give them the solid food after some time, that way they maintain the usual flow.
16. WHEN SHE DOES NOT NURSE ON DEMAND
Newborn babies usually do not have time schedules on when they should nurse so moms are always encouraged to feed them on demand. According to clarkscondensed.com, using time schedules and not reading the baby’s hunger cues can actually decrease a mother’s milk supply.
Putting newborns on a schedule interferes with the body’s natural way of producing milk. Instead of replenishing milk after every other feeding, it now has to wait until a certain time for when the baby is supposed to feed. Ideally, the more the baby feeds, the more milk the mother’s body produces. So scheduling decreases the supply. Therefore, moms should feed the baby when he or she is hungry.
15. USING BIRTH CONTROL
Most moms are quite aware that certain forms of hormonal birth control can actually affect their milk supply. As stated by verywellfamily.com, some forms of birth control contain estrogen, a hormone that causes milk supply to decline. This is why most doctors advise nursing moms to use the non-hormonal kind like an IUD.
There are a few cases where even after using the non-hormonal kind, moms will still notice a drastic decline in their milk supply, these moms should consult with their doctors about trying another type of birth control method that is safe while nursing and has no effect on mom’s milk.
Exercising is good for the body but when breastfeeding, moms should make sure not to burn excess calories. If a mother exercises a lot and does not maintain a healthy feeding plan, it is possible that her milk supply will decrease. Often when a new mom is starting her exercise routine after giving birth, it is usually hard to tell if what she is eating is enough to replenish her energy levels and keep her milk supply consistent.
According to clarkscondensed.com, moving from regular exercises to intense workouts can also cause a decline in milk supply. Therefore, exercising moms can consult a nutritionist to make sure they are eating enough and reserving a few calories for the production of milk.
13. NOT HYDRATING ENOUGH
It is very important for moms to stay hydrated when they are breastfeeding. They should not just drink water when the body demands; they should have a glass every now and then and throughout the day. Low water intake while nursing can actually cause a decrease in mom’s milk supply.
According to Fox News, there is a common myth that drinking a lot of water increases milk supply but this is not the case unless mom is also removing it by nursing or pumping. Drinking water alone will not do anything to increase the milk volume. Moms should also be keen not to overhydrate.
12. NOT EATING A BALANCED MEAL
The foods that moms eat can affect their overall health and milk supply. Nursing moms should take between 300 to 500 calories a day. This, of course, will depend on how many calories she is also burning in a day. Many apps can help with these calculations.
On top of eating the right amounts, moms should also pay close attention to what they are eating. As stated by mom365.com, if moms notice a decline in their milk supply they can add certain types of foods in their plan that are known to boost milk supply like oatmeal, spinach, garlic, barley, fennel, fenugreek seeds, and nuts. Nursing moms should also avoid going for long periods without eating.
11. GETTING PREGNANT AGAIN
If a mom happens to get pregnant again while she is still nursing, her milk supply will surely decrease. The decrease is because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Some moms may experience the decline immediately they find out they are pregnant and others may experience it in their second trimester.
Moms can hardly do anything to increase the quantity of their milk while pregnant. According to verywellfamily.com, if the baby is under six months, mom may have to give formula. However, if the baby is older, he or she can eat solid food to keep full but also feed on whatever milk is there.
10. CONSUMING ANTI-LACTOGENIC FOOD
It is good for moms to be aware of foods that can boost their milk supply. They should also note foods that can decrease their milk supply when they eat them while nursing. These are anti-lactogenic foods and examples include large quantities of sage, parsley, peppermint, and menthol found in salads, roasts, candies, and holiday meals, as stated by livingwithlowmilksupply.com.
Doctors advise moms who have endometriosis to take chaste berry supplements as treatment; however, they are known to decrease milk supply. In any case, moms can eat anti-lactogenic foods, but in small quantities. However, if mom notices that, her milk supply has dropped without any other cause; she should avoid these types of food.
9. OVERINDULGING IN CERTAIN FOOD AND DRINKS
Apart from anti-lactogenic foods, moms can eat other types of foods that can interfere with mom’s milk supply without her knowing. Of course, moms have the permission to indulge in their favorite treats such as coffee occasionally but they should not overdo it. Too much caffeine, chocolate, and sodas can dehydrate the body and lower milk supply. Caffeine can also affect the baby’s irritability and sleeping patterns.
According to verywellfamily.com, moms should avoid any kind of vice especially when nursing, because it leads to complications. It reduces the release of oxytocin hormone, which is crucial during nursing. These bad behaviors may even change the taste of the milk and cause the baby to nurse less. In this case, moms should stay clear of such indulgences.
8. TAKING MEDS
Many over-the-counter and prescribed meds for allergies, sinuses, and colds contain an ingredient called pseudoephedrine, which helps to dry running noses. However, it also decreases milk production during the period mom is consuming them. As stated by parents, a number of meds affect the level of the oxytocin hormone and can thus cause a decline in milk supply.
Moms who have constant allergies should avoid such meds for a period after delivery. Once they establish a good supply of milk then they have permission to have some. It is also advisable to check with doctors or pharmacists before taking any meds while nursing.
7. BABY’S INABILITY TO LATCH PROPERLY
Sometimes the problem with low levels of milk supply might be the result of the baby’s inability to latch properly. If this is the case, then the baby is not able to take in enough milk causing mom’s supply to decrease. Moms should always ensure that their babies have a proper latch before continuing with the feeding.
As claimed by todaysparents.com, there are techniques to achieving a good latch and moms can research on this. For starters, moms should always choose a moment when the baby is calm. They should then wait for the baby to open his or her mouth wide enough so that they can fit in most of the areola. While doing this, moms should also make sure not to stuff the baby’s nose.
6. INTRODUCING A PACIFIER OR BOTTLE
After birth, a mother’s body naturally produces milk continuously and the rate at which the production of the milk happens depends on how full or empty the mammary glands are. An empty gland is more likely to produce more milk than one that is full.
Having this consideration, moms should not give newborns pacifiers or bottles until their mothers are able to produce adequate milk. Pacifiers and bottles are more likely to slow down the process because they interfere with constant breastfeeding, which stimulates milk. According to Fox News, moms should at least wait three or four weeks before giving a pacifier or feeding through a bottle.
5. SUPPLEMENTING MOM’S MILK
Sometimes when mom does not have enough milk, she will quickly rush to supplement her milk with formula. However, what she does not know is that supplementing her milk is the first step on a path to low milk production. At times, she might only be doing this temporarily until her milk supply is back and but in other times it may be an early end to breastfeeding.
According to todaysparents.com, moms can supplement and still keep milk supply levels up by giving the baby less formula than he or she would require and then filling them up with her milk. Moms can also encourage their baby’s to nurse for comfort when they are fussy. In the end, this encourages milk production.
4. HAVING LOW OR HIGH LEVELS OF THYROID HORMONE
The thyroid gland usually found in the neck is responsible for producing the thyroid hormone. Sometimes it can make too much or too little of this hormone. Overproduction is called hyperthyroidism while under production is called hypothyroidism. Hyperproduction causes many body functions to speed up while the reverse is also true.
According to Parents, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can interfere with mom’s milk supply. This is because the thyroid gland also helps in the regulation of the oxytocin and prolactin hormones, which are important in this type of feeding. Moms who develop an inflamed throat during this time should have a thyroid check.
3. UNDERGOING SURGERIES BEFORE GIVING BIRTH
Many new moms these days go for cosmetic surgeries to enhance their looks. Some procedures are common and such can cause a decrease in the mother’s milk supply after birth. However, the exact effect of the surgery on nursing will depend on how much time has passed between the surgery and birth and how the surgeons did it.
Many women who go through these surgeries are able to breastfeed exclusively but a few find it hard to do so. Todays Parents noted that piercings in a mom’s chest are also a type of procedure that can affect milk supply, especially depending on the results of the procedure. Some piercings may interfere with the milk ducts while others may be fine.
2. GETTING A VISIT FROM AUNT FLO
Monthly periods can unexpectedly cause mom to have a decline in milk supply. This can happen for the few days while the flow is passing while others may experience the decline for a longer period. Most moms do not do anything about this, as it is only temporary. However, some add foods that can boost milk supply to their plans. Mom can give her baby the milk she had pumped and stored during this period. Once the flow is over, milk supply usually goes back to normal.
Excess bleeding after giving birth can also cause low levels of milk as well. When it occurs, it automatically interferes with milk supply from day one and may even inhibit early breastfeeding, as stated by parents.com. Pumping can help increase the supply after Aunt Flo stops.
1. WHEN THE BABY STARTS SLEEPING THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT
It is often a huge relief for moms when babies start sleeping through the night. However, this change sometimes affects milk supply. According to aboutkidshealth, during the first weeks of life babies wake up every two to three hours to feed even at night.
When this stops, around the time the baby gets to six months, moms may experience a decline in supply. The best way to ensure that the milk does not decrease is to pump. The extra pumping will replace the missed feeding that the baby used to take before he or she started sleeping through the night.