Signs Your Milk Supply is Decreasing

How do you know if your baby is getting enough milk? With bottle-fed babies, it's simple: Just count the ounces she eats. With breastfeeders, however, it’s trickier, and you'll want to determine if you have a decreasing or low milk supply. Here are four steps to help you find out if you have a low milk supply:

  • Do you have enough breast milk? Your breasts should feel heavy when you wake up. They may occasionally leak and you should be able to hear your baby gulping at least at the beginning of the feedings.

  • Is your baby serene after a meal? Well-fed babies get blissful and relaxed after nursing. If you notice your baby still exhibits fussiness, this could indicate that you’re not producing enough milk and have a low milk supply.

  • Does your baby pee enough? During the first days, infants don’t urinate very often. But once the milk comes in, they pee 5-8 times a day, and the urine is clear or light yellow. If you’re just seeing a few wet diapers a day and the color of the pee is dark yellow, consider it a red alert and call your pediatrician to check for a problem.

  • Is your baby gaining enough weight? Moms—and grandmas—often worry that their child is too skinny. Babies usually lose 8-12 ounces over the first few days of life, but thereafter gain 4-7 ounces per week. But there’s no need to guess if your infant is gaining enough weight, simply put her on a scale…at the doctor’s office. (Most home scales are so inaccurate they’ll drive you crazy!)

Note: One last clue in checking your breast milk supply is after you are done with a feed, offer a bottle of pumped milk or formula to see if your baby gulps it down. But be careful when giving bottles before breastfeeding is well established. It can alter a child’s sucking and make her suddenly reject the breast. In fact, to avoid nipple confusion it’s best to give no more than one bottle a day, even after the nursing is well established to prevent low milk supply.

Causes of a Sudden Drop in Milk Supply

If you suspect your milk supply is decreasing, these are the most common culprits:

  • Frequency and duration of nursing. Your body signals milk flow each time your baby latches and adjusts milk supply levels based on how much your baby regularly consumes. The less you express milk, the less you’ll produce. 
  • Health issues. Some newborns are born with physical or developmental challenges that may prevent them from latching and extracting milk from the mother’s breast (such as tongue tie). Mom’s health can also impact milk supply (e.g. thyroid or hormonal issues, medication, smoking, physical restraints, etc.). 

Prevent Low Milk Supply

The best way to prevent low milk supply is to allow your baby to drink as much breast milk as possible during feeding sessions; the more milk that is taken, the more your body will produce. Upping your breastfeeding frequency—or adding a pumping session immediately after breastfeeding—can help tell your body that it’s time to make more milk! 

And even though you’re super focused on Baby right now, make sure you’re looking after mama, too. Stay hydrated and make sure you’re getting enough food to eat. 

Be sure to discuss any concerns and signs your milk supply is decreasing with your doctor or an experienced lactation consultant and your child's pediatrician.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.