Breastfeeding is something that is largely viewed as a positive thing in western society. Most people naturally assume that moms are going to breastfeed, and some moms actually get judged for going straight to formula and not even attempting to breastfeed their baby.
It is important to understand that breastfeeding is not easy. Some people may get lucky and not struggle too much with it, but for many women, it is an added stress on top of the new exhaustion that being a mom brings.
Before we instantly judge moms who choose not to breastfeed, remember that there may be things preventing them from breastfeeding.
There are many reasons why some women either can’t breastfeed or have a much harder time keeping up a solid milk supply. Oftentimes, using formula is a necessity to keep their baby healthy and give them the proper nutrition. Sometimes moms who really want to breastfeed don’t seem to have a lot of options. It is important to keep in mind what might possibly affect how a woman breastfeeds, so each mama can make the best decision for her. So, here are 15 things that may alter a woman’s milk supply.
15 That Dreaded Syndrome (PCOS)
According to In Touch Weekly, 5 to 10 percent of women between 15 and 44 have PCOS, and it may be more common among women whose relatives have the condition. Women who suffer from PCOS may not develop eggs properly, or they might not release them regularly. PCOS is also linked to higher risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and endometrial cancer. Unfortunately, there is no cure for women with PCOS. Symptoms can be managed and it does not mean a woman can’t still get pregnant. But, it may affect how well they produce milk.
In 2015, Teen Mom OG star Maci Bookout revealed in an episode that she suffers from PCOS and that is why she and her then-boyfriend Taylor decided to go off birth control.
They didn’t want to prevent pregnancy any more than it was already being presented.
It is worth noting that Maci chose not to attempt breastfeeding at all with any of her kids. This could have a lot to do with the pain and struggle that having PCOS causes. There have been many times when Maci refers to being in excruciating pain, but still getting up and taking care of her kids. Maybe dealing with a low milk supply and a newborn was just not in the cards for her.
14 Allergy & Cold Medicine Could Affect Milk Supply
In general, there are quite a few allergies and cold medicines that are compatible with breastfeeding. It is advised that moms who are nursing don’t take medicines that combine several drugs into one pill. It is also advised that they only tackle one symptom at a time so that there is only one active ingredient.
According to BabyCenter, studies have found that certain meds such as pseudoephedrine may reduce a mom’s milk supply since it works by constricting blood vessels. Other cough suppressants may actually sedate your baby if they drink your breast milk while you are on the medication.
On the plus side, there are tons of cold and allergy remedies that are totally safe for breastfeeding and completely natural. Before jumping to that normal medicine that you’ve always taken when you get a cold, it might be a good idea to simply look into some more natural options. For example, when I was extremely sick and congested, the best thing I could do was boil water and drape a towel over my head and breath in the steam. Other women simply drink certain kinds of teas or different natural remedies that have similar healing qualities to them.
13 Where The Flavors Come From
While herbs and spices may seem natural and completely harmless, there is actually evidence to show that it can affect a woman’s breastmilk supply. According to Parents.com,
Sage, peppermint, oregano, lemon balm, parsley, and thyme can all actually decrease a mom’s milk supply if they are taken in large quantities.
It is stressed that this is not something that should be of a huge concern. For these herbs and spices to truly cause any difference, they would have to be eaten in extremely large quantities. It is completely safe to still cook with them and use them around the house.
The only other catch is in regards to essential oils. If you are someone who loves their oil, it is worth doing some research on the oils that are made with any of these herbs just to see if it could be interfering with your breastfeeding. Most people understand how extremely difficult breastfeeding can be, and if there was something you were doing in order to make it even harder, wouldn’t you want to fix that? Simply understanding how these herbs and spices may play a part in the nursing process will help each mom make the best decision for herself.
12 Past Upgrades
According to Very Well Family, success with breastfeeding after a breast surgery depends on many things. It depends on what the surgery was for, how successful it was, and the way it was performed. There are many reasons for women to undergo a breast surgery. Sometimes, it is simply for cosmetic reasons to enhance the size.
Celebrities such as Ariel Winter actually needed surgery for the opposite reason. Her breasts were so big that she was getting serious back pain. Apparently, her size ran in the family, but it was not something she could live with forever.
On the other hand, other chest enhancements are even more serious. Sometimes it has to do with removing cancer.
Mastectomies, lumpectomies, and biopsies are all very common procedures among women who are of childbearing age.
As far as breastfeeding goes, for breast augmentations, as long as you had healthy tissue before the surgery there shouldn’t be many problems. A reduction may cause the surgeon to have to reposition the nipple which could harm some of the milk ducts. It’s recommended for women who are having a breast surgery to contact a doctor who understands your desire to breastfeed or if you’ve already had the surgery ask how it was performed and let your pediatrician know.
11 Certain Kinds Of Birth Control
Hormonal birth control is a great method for preventing pregnancy from occurring, but what happens after you have already gotten pregnant and given birth to your new little baby? Eventually, the time will come when your body feels like it is fully recovered from the trauma of childbirth and you are ready to get intimate with your partner again.
The only issue is that you are probably not ready for another baby immediately. And, the simple answer would just be to go back on the same hormonal birth control that you were taking before you got pregnant. However, Parents.com explains that
a few hormonal birth controls, especially those containing estrogen, may have an effect on how much breastmilk you produce.
If maintaining a good milk supply is important to you when deciding on your post-birth contraception, then it is advised to look into birth control options that are progesterone only. The Mirena IUD, the shot (Depo-Provera), the implant (Implanon), and the mini-pill are examples of progestin-only birth control options. As always, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor about these decisions and make sure they understand your priority to keep a good milk supply for your baby.
10 A Bigger Loss During Childbirth
Most women understand that there is a risk that she could lose a lot of blood while pushing out her baby. There is cutting and ripping and tearing. All of which are of course completely worth it once you see that beautiful baby. The health of the mother is also extremely important and if there is too much blood loss it needs to be taken seriously because it could have consequences.
When a friend of mine gave birth, her son was a little stuck so they used some sort of suction to pull him out. This abrupt action completely ripped my friend open and she almost needed a blood transfusion.
A similar situation occurred with Jessa Duggar where she lost a lot of blood after pushing out her first son. And, she actually opted for the extra blood because it gave her more energy back. According to OnlineLibrary.Wiley.com, when a mother’s body is low on energy and lacking the right amount of blood, her breastmilk production will likely be lacking as well. There is support for this and even if full breastfeeding is not achieved right away, women can get there eventually. They simply have to transition from partial to full breastfeeding once their body is fully recovered.
9 Certain Body Mods
Nipple piercings may be the newest hidden accessory and while they can be cute and seductive, they don’t always mix well when it comes time to nurse your baby. I’m honestly surprised there hasn’t been more discussion about Kylie Jenner’s breastfeeding style since she made it clear to the world that she got her nipples pierced a few years ago. According to Breastfeeding.support, there have been many success stories of mom’s with nipple piercings breastfeeding their babies without problems.
Other mothers have experienced blocked ducts, infections, reduced milk supply, or even leaking from the holes in the nipples. If you are still thinking about getting that new piercing or breastfeeding with the piercing, it is important to keep in mind that the piercing must be fully healed before any nursing takes place.
And, the jewelry should definitely be removed before your baby starts drinking. The absolute worst thing imaginable would be if a piercing came loose and the baby started joking on a piece of the metal. That is why it is advised to research and learn everything there is to know about this if both nursing your baby and the nipple piercings are both things you want to pursue.
8 Inverted Troubles
While inverted nipples may not be the most exciting thing to talk about, it is definitely something that needs to be addressed. It causes many women to have trouble breastfeeding their newborn babies. According to the Madela Breastfeeding Blog, about 10% of women have flat or inverted nipples.
Apparently, every woman’s nipples will feel a little different after giving birth, and every baby will adjust a little differently to breastfeeding. The way nipples look don’t always explain if nursing will become an issue or not. There are tons of women who have flat or inverted nipples who never experienced any problems with breastfeeding.
One useful tip is to buy a nipple shield. They help moms breastfeed by assisting the baby in the latching process. It provides a larger, firmer area for the baby to attach during feedings. Some moms only needed the nipple shield for a short amount of time until their natural nipple was drawn out.
Other moms relied on this product because their milk supply was not being able to reach their baby without it. Of course, always remember to seek advice and support from breastfeeding specialists who can suggest the best direction for you and for the health of your new little baby.
7 Tracking The Caffeine Intake
It’s universal knowledge at this point that pregnant women should not consume too much caffeine. It is advised that they drink decaf coffee and tea, and not more than one regular cup of coffee a day. Caffeine is definitely not necessary or ideal for a growing baby to be getting. Our society seems to totally forget about this rule when it comes to drinking caffeine while you are breastfeeding.
I think many people don’t realize that breast milk contains everything that has gone into the mother. So, if she drinks alcohol she can’t feed her baby that milk. The same usually goes for caffeinated drinks as well.
According to Kelly Mom,
newborns have a harder time metabolizing caffeine than older infants do.
Apparently, If a mother consumes roughly five cups of coffee a day and her baby seems irritable, fussy, and doesn’t sleep long, she can try substituting caffeine-free beverages for a week or two and see if it makes a difference. I know it seems cruel since new moms are the most tired they’ve ever been, but it’s all for the baby, right? It is actually a myth that caffeine will decrease the milk supply of a woman, but it can affect the milk that the baby consumes.
6 Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have gotten a bad rap for a while because they are said to be less healthy and even more harmful than regular sugar is. However, Consultant360.com claims that there is not sufficient evidence to say that these artificial sweeteners should be something to fear. Since these sweeteners do go through your digestive system and eventually make it into your bloodstream, it is completely possible to pass them into your baby through breastfeeding.
Of course, there will need to be a large amount present for anything to really happen. Some studies suggest that there could be a link between artificial sweeteners, and a baby growing up to have metabolic diseases, a preference for sweets, allergies, and asthma.
While these sweeteners don’t seem to increase or decrease the actual supply of milk that is getting to the baby, it could have a huge effect on the health of the baby. There are many people out there who don’t think these sweeteners are a big deal and so they will brush off this information. If you are a breastfeeding mom who wants to make sure their baby is getting the best and most nutritious milk, it might be a good idea to avoid these sweeteners.
5 Foods That Cause Gas
Let’s be honest here, nobody likes eating food that makes them all bloated and constantly filled with gas. It is an extremely uncomfortable feeling to have and for the women who just went through nine months of pregnancy, it is not exactly the welcome back party you wanted your body to give you. Oftentimes the healthiest foods are the ones that cause the most grass.
Leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are all very high in fiber which can irritate your digestive system if you are not used to eating that kind of food.
Unfortunately, those are usually the foods that many women looking to lose that extra baby weight gravitate towards.
Livestrong states that breastfeeding mothers don’t need to routinely avoid any specific food. Many moms have noticed that their babies are unusually fussy right after feeding when they’ve eaten specific foods. It’s possible that your baby is sensitive to something you are eating and this could eventually cause them to not want to breastfeed. This is why it is extremely important to cut certain things out of your diet if you think they could be affecting your baby’s feeding habits. Then, eventually, you could introduce certain foods back in.
4 Lack Of Stimulation
There are many things that could happen to a breastfeeding mom that would explain why she has a lower supply of milk. One of the most common things that occurs is when a milk duct becomes blocked by thickened milk. This could cause your child not to want to breastfeed as often. It could cause your baby not to attach well, and it could cause you trauma to your breast. Now, one of the easiest ways but most effective methods for fixing this problem is to simply massage your breasts.
NCBI.gov explains that
if a mother gently rubs areas she feels might have breastmilk build up, then there is a good chance she will stay out of trouble.
These buildups could be a result of not breastfeeding enough, or not pumping as frequently as necessary. By keeping these things in mind and constantly massaging and rubbing your own breasts, you will keep the milk going, prevent clotting, and help your baby get more milk.
I know it is not glamorous to imagine a woman’s breast getting clogged with milk, but it’ important to think about the baby. That’s their food that is getting clogged. And, a simple rub or massage will truly loosen things up and should do the trick.
3 The Stress Of Things
Stress and anxiety can cause our body to go through a lot of unwanted changes. When my friend was extremely stressed and got anxiety, she actually started losing some of her hair. Now, I understand that motherhood can be a very scary and stressful time in a woman’s life. She wants to do everything right and is afraid to do the wrong thing or make the wrong decision. It is truly a curse to think like this and it can actually be detrimental to the health of your baby.
According to BabyCenter, stress really can slow down the flow of breastmilk. But, as long as the mother continues to pump and nurse her baby, her supply is unlikely to stop altogether. Statistically speaking, it has actually been found that breastfeeding can reduce stress and anxiety.
Although I’m sure some moms would disagree with that. The point is, a relaxed mom helps the milk supply flow. A stressed mom stops it from flowing so well. Relaxation is said to be the key when it comes to getting a normal supply of milk back. Telling a new mother not to be stressed or anxious will probably just make both of those emotions worse, so this can sometimes be seen as a catch-22.
2 Not Being Near The Baby
When a mother and her baby has a great breastfeeding relationship going on, it can be extremely difficult for a mom to need to separate from her child for any reason. Once mothers stop worrying about whether their little baby will take to a bottle or pre-pumped milk over their own breast, she will likely realize that it is much easier to simply keep her baby with her at all times.
That is just not possible at times and therefore, moms have to go without feeding for a while. According to Laleche.org, feeding patterns is a great way to keep your baby happy without decreasing your milk supply too much.
Some moms have to go back to work, or school, and not being around to hear that baby cry will actually start to reduce your flow of milk. My mom used to say that milk would start coming out of her breasts if she was simply out in public and heard another baby start crying.
A mother’s natural instincts really are spot-on, and leaving your baby is hard enough but hindering their food supply is an even worse feeling. Another great option to keep up a good milk supply while away from your baby is to simply create a pumping schedule that you can stick to.
1 Breastfeeding While Pregnant
Breastfeeding while pregnant is actually a debatable subject because many moms feel like it can put the unborn baby inside the mother at risk, while other moms think breastfeeding the baby that you have is essential for their health and well-being. Breastfeeding while pregnant does come with some risks, but it is not anything that can’t be dealt with. According to AmericanPregnancy.org, there are some risks of uterine contractions occurring if you breastfeed while you are pregnant. However, these contractions are very unlikely to cause a miscarriage.
Another concern is that the pregnancy hormones will pass through the milk that your baby is drinking. And, while this is true, the hormones are harmless and very little actually make it to your baby.
These added hormones could decrease your milk production and make it harder to breastfeed. During a mother’s fourth and fifth month of pregnancy, it is very common for her milk supply to decrease and for the flavor to become very undesirable for your baby.
Because of this, your child may actually wean from breastfeeding much earlier than you wanted or expected them to. This is important to keep in mind if breastfeeding is something that is really important to you because you may want to consider family planning and waiting a little longer before having another baby.
References: VeryWellFamily.com, Kellymom.com, Babycenter.com, Onlinelibrary.wiley.com, Parents.com, Breastfeeding.support, InTouchWeekly.com, Madelabreastfeedingblog.com, Kellymom.com, Consultant360.com, Livestrong.com, NCBI.gov, Babycenter.com, laleche.org, Americanpregnancy.org