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Are you stressing out, worried that your milk supply is drying up? Don’t worry mama, keep on reading to learn how you can identify whether your milk supply is getting low or not!
I’ll never forget my first breastfeeding journey — talk about LOW supply.
I am 100% convinced my supply sucked (no pun intended) from day one because my son and I never got that much skin-to-skin or latching practice for a while during his initial NICU stay.
It took me a lot of work to use an electric breast pump (this one to be exact) to bring my supply up, but it was worth it.
It did, however, always leave me wondering things like if my supply was too low? How could I tell if my supply was tanking? What else could I do to increase my breast milk supply?
Is your milk supply drying up? Low milk supply signs:
If you’re wondering whether or not your milk supply is drying up, this is exactly how you can figure it out!
Poor infant weight gain
If your baby is not gaining weight consistently, it could be a signs of a low milk supply.
This doesn’t mean your baby should be rapidly packing on the pounds, but they shouldn’t be losing much of it either.
According to this article on Kelly Mom:
- Babies 0 to 4 months old should gain an average of 5.5 – 8.5 ounces per week.
- Babies 4 to 6 months old should gain an average of 3.25 – 4.5 ounces per week.
- Babies 6 to 12 months old should gain an average of 1.75 – 2.75 ounces per week.
However, it’s important to understand that newborns will likely lose around 5 to 7 % of their birth weight during the first few days after birth. So don’t worry, that is normal and is not an indication of you having a low milk supply.
So what IS an indication of poor milk supply? If your baby’s weight gain stalls or decreases suddenly, that would be a cause for concern.
As a breastfeeding mama, I always suggest running things like this by both your child’s pediatrician and your IBCLC to make sure all bases are covered.
Your baby is dehydrated
Infants can become dehydrated rather fast, so it’s important to pay attention to these signs to catch it quickly:
- Dry Mouth
- Dark-colored urine
- Not wanting to wake to eat
- Minimal or decreased wet diapers
- Sunken eyes and fontanelle
- Lethargy and fever
These signs may also apply to other issues and conditions, but if you notice any of them, please notify your pediatrician right away.
Though signs of dehydration can come on fast, if it’s a milk supply issue, you will likely see the progression of signs increasing throughout your breastfeeding journey.
Baby not making enough wet diapers
If your baby isn’t wetting enough diapers, this could be a sign your baby isn’t getting enough milk.
Especially if they’re not gaining weight and/or showing signs of dehydration.
The toss-up here is there’s some mixed information about how many wet diapers are “normal” for a baby.
So a good rule of thumb about “wet diapers” to follow is that baby should have 1 wet diaper on day one, two wet diapers on day two while continuing to increase to at least 6 wet diapers by day 5.
And lastly, your baby’s urine should be pale without any strong odor to it.
Common myths about your milk supply drying up:
Now that you know the 3 main signs to tell whether or not you could have a low breastmilk supply, it’s time to debunk some common myths!
Your baby won’t sleep through the night
Night-waking is normal for ALL babies.
In fact, most babies barely start consolidating their sleep around the 5 to 6-month mark, but it still doesn’t guarantee they will sleep through the night.
Instead of assuming it’s your milk supply, try out some of these tips if your 5+ month old baby is consistently waking throughout the night:
- Make sure the room is dark (these blackout curtains can help big time).
- Use a sound machine, like the Hatch, to create a peaceful sleep environment.
- Keep the room cool, but not cold (65-68 degrees Fahrenheit seems to be the happy spot for a lot of babies).
- Keep their bedtime routine consistent.
- Use an appropriate swaddle or sleep sack.
If all else fails, I encourage you to check out this amazing customized sleep plan that Andrea from Baby Sleep Plan offers. It’s 100% customized to you and your baby to help your little one get the rest their little body needs!
You aren’t able to pump a lot of breast milk
A breast pump is NOT the same as a nursing baby.
Though the idea and stimulation is similar, a baby latched onto the breast is way more efficient at drawing out milk than a pump.
However, if you exclusively pump, it’s important to be sure you’re using the BEST breast pump possible, one that will actually empty you as close as possible as a nursing baby would.
That’s why my top pick is the Spectra S1 Breast pump!
Hospital-grade strength, without the major price tag.
Your breasts feel softer and less full
In those beginning days (prior to your milk supply regulating) your breasts may feel very full and heavy.
However, that feeling won’t last forever, fortunately, unless you have an oversupply of breast milk.
So don’t worry, the feeling of soft breasts while breastfeeding is perfectly normal as your milk supply regulates around that 6 to 12-week mark.
Your baby wants to breastfeed frequently
Is your baby amping up the nursing sessions? Don’t be too quick to assume it’s a supply issue.
In fact, breast milk is EXTREMELY easy for babies to digest, which is why most of them tend to consume more than a baby who’s fed formula for example.
And of course, we can’t forget about growth spurts. Though babies can go through growth spurts at any time, the following time frame is most common:
- Between 1 to 3 weeks old.
- Between 6 to 8 weeks old.
- 3 months old.
- 6 months old.
- 9 months old.
Just remember, every baby is different, and most don’t follow any kind of linear patterns to a T.
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Baby drinks a bottle after nursing
If your baby is gulping down a bottle right after nursing, you’re probably thinking it’s your milk supply. I mean, it has to be, right?
In fact, a lot of babies will gladly accept extra milk if offered.
If this is happening all of the time, you could discuss it with your pediatrician or lactation consultant just for peace of mind.
You don’t feel the sensation of a letdown
Believe it or not some moms never feel the sensation of a letdown.
As a fellow breastfeeding mom myself, my letdowns felt strongest during the first 2-3 months and as time went on, the sensation became a lot less prevalant.
If you’re wondering what a letdown feels like, most women describe it as a tingling or rush-like sensation felt in your breasts.
Your baby rejects nursing
As babies get older, they become very efficient at emptying the milk from your breasts in a short amount of time.
If your baby eventually starts to reject your breast while nursing, there could be other reasons for the rejection prior to assuming it’s your milk supply.
For instance, your baby could reject being at the breast because they have a poor latch (due to a possible lip or tongue tie), they may have reflux, possibly teething, and more!
The point being, don’t assume it’s your breast milk supply before weighing out all the other options first.
Are you still wondering if your milk supply drying up could be a problem?
Now that you have a better idea about which signs to look out for (baby gaining weight, baby not dehydrated, and your baby wetting enough diapers), you should feel a lot more confident about your milk supply for baby!
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