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15 Common Things That Make Breastmilk Supply Too Low (And 5 That Can Make It Too High)

Breastfeeding has many benefits to both mom and baby.

For babies, breastmilk not only has been linked to higher IQ scores later on in childhood but also provides a perfect mix of vitamins, protein, everything that a little one needs to grow big and strong. It also contains lots of antibodies that can help babies fight off viruses and bacteria, it lowers their chances of having asthma or allergies, and babies who are breastfed for at least the first six months—without any formula as a supplement—are known to have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea.

For mom though, breastfeeding helps to burn extra calories, it releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps her uterus go back to pre-baby status and it helps to lower mom’s chance of both breast and ovarian cancer.

Let’s not forget the money mom will save on not having to buy bottles, nipples, and formula.

Unfortunately, there are things that can lower mom’s milk supply, which means less milk for the baby and the possibility of having to supplement to make up for the milk loss.

Here is a list of 15 things that can lower a mother’s milk supply, and five things that can help to up mom’s milk production.

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20 Previous Breast Surgery Can Have Some Negative Effects

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According to Todaysparent.com, whatever the reason—even just a nipple piercing or just for breast reduction or enhancement— a procedure can have a negative impact on a woman’s ability to produce milk. How much it impacts her though, depends on a few different reasons such as: how the procedure was done, how much time has passed between the time she gives birth and the time of her surgery, and whether there were any complications that could have caused scarring or damage to the breasts.

For those women who have had work done, it may actually be easier to breastfeed without any difficulties. Other women may need some help or even supplements though.

19 Using Hormonal Birth Control Can Impact A Woman's Milk Supply

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Most of the time, when a woman starts birth control after having a child, she will find that her milk production does not change, but there are some women who do not have it as lucky.

According to Todaysparent.com, there are some forms of hormonal birth control, such as the pill, path or injections, that can cause a woman’s milk supply to drop dramatically. Most of the time, this happens when a woman starts using the contraceptives before the baby turns four months old, but there are cases that it has occurred later as well.

Best thing to do is to contact one’s doctor. Some mothers will need extra help though, such as prescribed meds, herbal supplements and/or pumping, to boost their milk production.

18 Not Feeding At Night Can Lower Breastmilk Production

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According to Todaysparents.com, there are a lot of different programs and books that a parent can use to help in sleep-training. A lot of parents crave the time when their little one will finally sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night means more sleep for mom and dad, which is a great thing, but also means fewer feedings.

How much milk a woman can store in her breast differs from woman to woman. Due to not feeding as much overnight, their milk supply will start to drop. Also, the hormone prolactin, which is what signals the breasts to make milk, is higher at night during feedings. Without nightly feedings, low prolactin can contribute to a drop in milk production.

17 Surprisingly, Drinking Too Much Water Can Cause A Drop In Milk Production

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Drinking water is a big thing when breastfeeding. It helps mom to produce more milk to feed her baby. There is no need to go overboard though.

In fact, according to verywellfamily.com, studies have shown that drinking more than six to eight glasses of water each day, or any other type of beverage, can cause a drop in how much milk a woman can make. On top of lowering mom’s milk supply, it will also cause her to fill up on fluids, which in turn will decrease her hunger and prevent her from eating enough food to get all the calories and nutrients she needs.

16 Supplementing Between Feedings Can Lower One's Milk Production

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The first couple of weeks after a baby’s born is the most crucial. Supplementing formula in between feedings can trick a mother’s breasts into producing less milk.

According to Todaysparent.com, lactation consultant Diana West, had this to say about supplementing formula: “In the early weeks, the breasts’ capacity for milk production is calibrated in response to the amount of milk that is removed. If less milk is removed, the breasts assume that less milk is needed, so the capacity is set at a lower point.”

Basically, giving a baby formula makes them eat less from the breast, which, in response, will cause the breast to make less milk. If a mother wants to supplement, its best to pump as well to help promote higher milk production.

15 Scheduled Feedings And/Or Using Pacifiers Between Feedings Can Affect Mom's Milk

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The rate at when a woman’s breast creates milk depends on how empty they are. The emptier they are, the more milk they make.

According to Todaysparent.com, when a baby is put on a schedule where they are eating every three or four hours let’s say, or a parent is giving them a pacifier to help stretch the time before feedings out, mom’s breast will become a lot fuller than usual, meaning she will stop making as much milk.

When a baby is fed in response to their cues, they tend to eat not only faster but have more frequent feedings, which means mom’s breasts are emptier and can keep making plenty of milk.

14 Birthing Meds Or Jaundice Can Also Lower Mom's Milk

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Not many mothers know this, but the meds used during labor, such as an epidural, anesthesia or Demerol, can actually affect a baby’s ability to be able to latch on or feed effectively.

According to Todaysparent.com, there have been studies that show these types of effects, depending on the meds used in the epidural and the length of time mom used it while in labor, can last up to a month.

Jaundice is a common condition that is found in newborn babies. When a child is born with jaundice, he or she will tend to sleep a lot more than usual, which means fewer feedings.

13 Getting Sick Can Have Negative Effects On Mom's Production

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According to utswmed.org, when mom catches a bug or virus such as the common cold, the flu, or a stomach virus, her milk production will slow down. However, this negative impact is not from the bug or virus she contracted, but because of the symptoms she is experiencing from being sick such as fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, and a decrease in appetite.

The best thing a mom should do when she has fallen ill is to ask for help. By getting help while sick, she will have more time to focus on herself and to produce breastmilk to nurse or pump for her little one.

12 Getting Pregnant While Breastfeeding Will Cause Mom To Produce Less Milk

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Sometimes, a woman who is still breastfeeding a child—be it under a year-old or over a year-old—will become pregnant again. When this happens, she will start to produce a hormone that can decrease how much milk she produces.

According to verywellfamily.com, there isn’t much an expecting mother can do to increase her milk supply while pregnant. If the child she is still breastfeeding is over a year old, then they should be fine, but if they are under a year, she may want to start supplementing with infant formula to make sure her little one is still getting all the nutrients they need.

11 Too Much Caffeine Can Affect Mom's Milk Production

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It is common knowledge that when a woman is pregnant, she needs to limit her caffeine intake due to it can be harmful to the growing baby in her belly.

Well, according to verywellfamily.com, she needs to continue those practices even after giving birth if she wants to only breastfeed her child. Now, soda, coffee, teas, and chocolate are okay in moderation, but in large amounts, it can dehydrate the body, which in turn will lower a woman’s production of breastmilk.

Let’s not forget that too much caffeine can affect the baby also. Some of that caffeine mom ingests will pass through her and into the baby through the milk. So, she needs to be careful.

10 Ignoring One’s Health Will Lower Breastmilk Production

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There are times when a woman can get so involved with other things and people around her that she ignores her own health and needs.

According to verywellfamily.com, this is bad for a woman who is breastfeeding a child. If she has an infection or another health condition such as low thyroid function or anemia, her body will start to slow down and make less breastmilk.

The best thing for her to do is if she starts to feel a bit off, to take some time to herself and get back to 100% so that she can continue to make milk.

9 Not Getting Enough Rest Can Affect One’s Breastmilk

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When a woman has a child, she puts a lot on herself and her body. Childbirth, the demands of motherhood, and having to produce and feed her child can all be stressful and exhausting.

According to verywellfamily.com, between postpartum fatigue and lack of energy, a woman’s body can have a hard time producing breastmilk. In fact, fatigue and lack of energy are among the most common causes of low milk supply. That is why, even though it may be hard to do, it is very important to try and get as much rest as possible during the first few weeks after giving birth.

8 Not Eating Healthy Can Impact Breastmilk Production

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It is a common feeling to want to get one’s body back to shape once the baby arrives. To want to shed what was gained during the pregnancy as fast as possible and just feel like one’s normal self again.

According to verywellfamily.com though, for a mother who is breastfeeding, what she puts in her body and how she nourishes herself can influence not only her overall health but also her milk supply, too.

It is best to pay attention to one's meal plans every day. Drink lots of water, have a healthy meal plan, and do not skip meals. The more she nourishes her body, the more milk she can produce to nourish her child’s body.

7 Different Meds And Herbs Should Not Be Ingested If Mom Is Worried About Low Milk Supply

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There are many different digestible foods, meds, and herbs that can have negative impacts on a mother’s milk supply.

According to Todaysparent.com, pseudoephedrine—which is the active ingredient in Sudafed and similar cold meds—methergine, bromocriptine, large amounts of sage, parsley, or peppermint can all impact a woman’s ability to produce breastmilk.

If a woman finds that her milk is on the low side, the best thing is to contact her doctor and finds alternatives to the meds that she is currently taking.

Also, increasing how much she breastfeeds and adding in a possible pump now and again can help to increase milk production.

6 Stress Can Cause Mom To Have Low Milk Production

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Stress can impact how a woman breastfeeds in two different ways: how much milk she produces and the contents of her milk.

According to Insured.amedadirect.com, when a woman is stressed, her body responds to it by releasing cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine — all hormones that can affect the contents of her milk.

Though stress does impact a woman’s milk supply, it does not directly affect it. What really impacts it is how much mom is eating, drinking, resting, and how frequently she nurses her bundle of joy. When mom is stressed, she doesn’t pay attention as much, therefore it starts to impact how much milk she produces.

5 Fennel And Fenugreek Seeds Are A Mom's Best Friend If She Wants To Up Her Milk Production

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According to Todaysparent.com, both the plant fennel and the seed fenugreek, contain an ingredient called phytoestrogens, which has been known to help women with the production of their milk.

Unfortunately, though it has its benefits, too much of it can have some negative side effects.

Alicia C. Simpson, an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant and registered nutritionist in Georgia, writes: “Clinical studies have tried to identify the exact dosage that exerts therapeutic effects, as well as the mechanism by which this herb works to increase milk production, but the evidence is still inconclusive.”

Those who suffer from type one or two diabetes, heart disease, or nut/legume allergies should talk to a doctor first before trying this method.

4 Moms Having Issues Should Try Eating Green Unripe Papaya

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Papaya, the yummy sunny fruit that has been used for centuries in Asian cultures by eating it raw or cooking it up for soups and other meals.

According to Todaysparent.com, though the fruit has just been recently studied, it has some qualities to it that help to increase production of breastmilk. Alicia Simpson, International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, has admitted though that they do not know why or how though it does this.

The best way to consume papaya is raw with yogurt, cereal, and other fruit. Also, for those moms who love to try new things, papaya is great in Thai-inspired soups, salads, and noodle dishes.

3 Eating Barley Can Have Positive Effects On Mom's Production

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There is a rumor that drinking a tall glass of Guinness, which is a brand of beer, now and again can help to promote healthy breastmilk and a higher supply.

This is false.

According to Todaysparents.com, adult drinks can inhibit milk production, plus it is not safe to ingest because it can pass through mom and into the baby, which is why moms will pump-and-dump if they drink while breastfeeding.

What helps to promote a healthy milk supply is the ingredient barley, which is a component in beer. Barley is what helps to increase prolactin, which is known as a breastfeeding hormone.

2 Eating Oats Is A Great Way To Increase Breastmilk

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Both barley and oats are known as being the best two things a mom can try if she needs to up her breastmilk production. Out of all other foods a mother can try, these two products are known to a higher concentration of dietary beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that helps to produce prolactin, a hormone that produces breastmilk, which is why they are known as the two best things to try to up a woman’s production.

According to Todaysparent.com, oats are easy to work into one’s daily meals. They can be cooked and topped with fruit, added in muffins or cookies, or even added to yogurt, topped with fruit and eaten as a yummy dessert. From just plain granola to even meatloaf, there are many things a woman can try.

1 Eating Different Whole Grains Will Help Mom Increase Milk Production

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Just like barley and oats, whole grains such as whole wheat and brown rice are other products rich in beta-glucan.

According to Todaysparent.com though, whole grains have been overlooked in research as a lactogenic food, simply because whole grains are also a dietary staple.

If a mother wants to try grains like bread or rice, it is best to remember that white bread or white rice does not have the same positive qualities as whole grains do.

To incorporate some whole grains into one’s daily meals, there are things like whole wheat bread and brown rice like mentioned or adding wheat flour to pancakes, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods.

Sources: Todaysparent.com, insured.amedadirect.com, utswmed.org, verywellfamily.com

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