My breast milk supply has suddenly decreased – what to do?
Reduction in the breast milk supply can occur for many reasons – and it often happens even to mothers who nurse directly at the breast. You express breast milk and see what you produce – it brings more stress and concerns about the normally occurring fluctuations in the amount that otherwise you would not have noticed.
The amount of expressed milk can fluctuate from day to day for a number of reasons:
- Less frequent expressions (this is the most common and serious cause with the most dramatic effect on the quantity!)
- Stress – e.g. if the baby's condition has deteriorated or you got seriously upset at the hospital
- Insufficient fluid intake
The reduction in the breast milk supply can be avoided! Just do as mothers whose babies suck at the breast do – if the amount is decreasing or if there is a need to increase the amount it is necessary to empty the breasts quite frequently (sometimes even twice as often as compared to the current routine).
- For 2-3 days try to do 2-3 additional expressions.
- Try a “super” schedule for draining the breasts – put the pump in a place where you feel comfortable and where you most often sit. Every time you sit there pump each breast for a few minutes.
- Apply breast compression during pumping
- After pumping, try expressing by hand for 2-3 minutes. Do this additional expression by hand after at least five of the pumpings for the day.
- If possible, attempt to spend more time making skin-to-skin contact with your baby during your visits – it favours the production of breast milk and calms you.
- Try to rest more – a short nap can help you feel fresh and rested. You may notice that afterwards you are able to express more breast milk.
- Do not neglect drinking fluids in the panic – try to drink a glass of water, lactogenic tea or your preferred drink before each pumping.
If the reduction in the breast milk supply is substantial and is not affected by the appropriate measures within a week, or if 14 days after delivery the amount of expressed milk with a good frequency of draining remains below 500 ml per 24 hours, contact your baby's doctor or nursing consultant. You can discuss additional ways to stimulate the breast milk with them.