Cincinnati Family Magazine

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July 13, 2024

“You’re Not Making Enough Milk.”

Having to supplement isn’t the best news to hear from your pediatrician, but not all is lost. There is hope to increase your milk supply again.

Here’s what you imagined: a breastfeeding journey that you knew would be hard, but you were prepared and ready as ever to do it this time. Here’s what happened: You walk into your baby’s two-week checkup and the pediatrician says, “You’re still not producing enough milk, he isn’t gaining weight. You may need to supplement.”

What does that even mean? What if my baby won’t take a bottle? Thoughts and worry suffocate you. Depletion of milk happens for many reasons and none of those being your fault. You did not fail. Some babies need more and supplementing is a good thing to help them get what they need, and with a little patience and consistency, you can get your milk supply up to speed again.

“Many things can lead to a reduction in supply, but the great thing is, with a little bit of help, many women can overcome this,” says Charla Payne BSN, clinical nurse manager at the Liberty Birthing Center at The Christ Hospital Health Network. “We tell parents to reach out as soon as they’re seeing an issue. Factors that can cause a drop in supply include decrease in infant feeding or pumping, illness, resumption of your period or returning to work.”

How to Tell If Baby Isn’t Getting Enough

There are some key details to pay attention to consider if your baby isn’t getting enough milk. Your pediatrician will ask you about wet or dirty diapers as soon as you make that first follow-up visit after birth. Your little one should also not have a weight loss that is more than 10 percent from their birth weight by the time they are two weeks old. Before jumping to conclusions, your pediatrician will want to find out the reason why.

“Is the baby not able to transfer milk at the breast or is there not enough milk in the breast?” says Payne. “Working with an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in the lactation department would help get more food in the baby (there are many different options) and potentially work on aspects to increase milk production.” Another sign includes inadequate wet or dirty diapers, says Payne. Also know that if your baby seems to be frequently feeding, that is a completely normal sign and it is not always a sign of a problem. There are more positive signs to look out for according to Payne.

“Meeting appropriate milestones and overall wellness are great signs that Baby is thriving,” she continues.

All About Supplementing

If you are told you need to supplement, that could mean either giving your little one pumped milk, formula or milk from a donor. That is up to you.

“We do not have to use a bottle if mom prefers not to,” says Payne. “Again, this depends on if we are supplementing because of Baby or because of mom meaning is this a milk volume issue or is baby not transferring well related to oral anatomy, tone, being born on the early side or other factors.”

The early days are sweet, but hard. The road doesn’t end with supplementing – you can go back to breastfeeding once your milk production gets back on track, so try not to get discouraged. Creating that little bridge of supplemental milk and a great plan with your lactation consultant can get your milk production climbing again, says Payne.

Get Your Milk Production Back

Pumping and more can help — and reaching out to your doctor or a lactation consultant.

FREQUENT FEEDING AND PUMPING – Pumps vary; Payne recommends a hospital grade pump or a Spectra at minimum.

GET ADEQUATE REST- Restless nights can lead to a stress. Have a close friend or relative come over so you can get some extra zzz’s.

EAT A HEALTHY DIET- Oatmeal, almonds and herbs such as ginger are some great foods that can help your supply.

RELAX AND MASSAGE – Ask for help so you can relax with Baby. Hold Baby skin-to-skin, and massage your breasts before feeding to encourage your let down.

About the Author

Amanda Hayward

Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and a mom of three with one on the way. If she's not writing for Cincinnati Family, you'll find her running, juggling kids, teaching group fitness classes and cooking up healthy recipes.