There are a number of reasons for reduced milk production, and there is a solution for each one. Go through the list and see if any of them apply to you. Remember, there is no need to worry! With proper treatment and advice, the majority of problems can be dealt with, while maintaining a steady supply of milk.
According to IBCLC lactation consultant, Lisa Marsko (USA), and herbal medicine expert Katherine Higgins, founder of Motherlove and author of multiple books on herbalism.
What are the main factors that affect the production of breast milk?
Emptying the breast in a timely manner – You must make sure that the breast is emptied regularly in order to ensure a good supply of milk. You can breastfeed or express; this will make sure that your body produces milk to replace the milk that was emptied. The more milk you empty, the more your body will produce. Making sure that your baby is latched on properly will lead to more efficient breastfeeding and full emptying of the breast.
Diet can hinder the process of milk production – Many women don’t know that their diet has a significant impact on milk production. Try to avoid the following foods when breastfeeding: sage, parsley, thyme, and mint (including mint-flavoured food).
Hormones – Sometimes, hormonal imbalances affect milk production. Thyroid, insulin, progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone, prolactin and glucose all affect milk production and each of these has a role to play in lactation. If you are having problems with your milk supply, you should consider getting your hormone levels checked.
Breast tissue – Some women may have damage to their breast tissue, or may have an insufficient amount of breast tissue for a variety of reasons. Silicone breast implants, breast reductions, or any surgery involving the breast can harm the glands, milk ducts, and nerves. Polycystic ovaries may also cause damage to the breast tissue.
Scars – These can be caused by diagnostic surgeries or by cosmetic procedures of the nipple. Nipple piercings may cause damage to nerves critical for breastfeeding.
That all with the negative causes. Now let’s look at what you can do to help your body produce more milk.
Plants that promote milk production – You can take advantage of information gathered over hundreds of years of successful experience. This information, which has been used in many cultures, is available to you today.
There are more – so we suggest to consult with a lactation consultant – Don’t hesitate to seek professional advice if you have any questions or problems relating to breastfeeding. Lactation consultants have the experience and knowledge needed to give you the best possible help and support. Every breastfeeding woman is unique, and differences in the body, physiology, hormonal balance, and the baby’s habits are all factors that can influence breastfeeding. A face-to-face meeting with a lactation consultant that you feel comfortable with can help you breastfeed in a way that works for you.
Expressing – Sometimes the body needs encouragement and stimulation in order to increase milk production. You can express the milk that is left in the breasts after breastfeeding, store it, and keep it for later use.
Proper breastfeeding – Perhaps your baby is not latched on correctly, and is therefore not emptying the breast. If you see that your baby is struggling with breastfeeding, keeps coming off the breast, or is finding it difficult to stay latched on to the breast; if you have cracks in your nipples, or if you experience pain during breastfeeding more than two weeks after giving birth, ask your doctor or lactation consultant to check if your baby has a tongue tie, as this can make it difficult for babies to breastfeed properly.
Alternative techniques – There are additional ways of stimulating milk production, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, reflexology, yoga, naturopathy, and guided imagery. You can aid your milk production by trying a method that you are comfortable with.
Nutrition while breastfeeding – Remember that nutrition is medicine for the body. Maintaining a varied diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, iron, vitamin B, calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 can make all the difference in helping your body to produce milk. Avoid eating junk food and drink plenty of water.
Lack of confidence – Sometimes it takes time to develop confidence in your abilities as a mother. It isn’t something that comes naturally to all mothers straight away. Some mothers feel uncomfortable in their environment because of feelings of enjoyment or pain during breastfeeding. Find yourself a private place where you can breastfeed comfortably and surrender to the emotions that you experience. Eye contact with your baby can help to make breastfeeding comfortable and successful. Another way of improving your confidence is to join a breastfeeding support group and share your experiences with other breastfeeding mothers.
Rest – Try to rest and relax every few hours throughout the day, in order to allow your body to re-energise. In the struggle to produce milk, many women make their situation worse. It is important to understand that, sometimes, situations happen that are beyond your control. A mother that only breastfeeds partially, but is relaxed, is preferable to one that exclusively breastfeeds but is frustrated, tired and tormented by pain. Give yourself whatever you need (quiet, music, a relaxing bath, physical exercise, a conversation alone with a friend at a coffee shop…) in order to relax and rest.