A Sudden Drop in Milk Supply? Major Causes and Remedy

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For moms who are on exclusive breastfeeding, it’s typical to notice a sudden drop in milk supply as you breastfeed your baby. This sudden drop in milk supply also affects mothers that pump too. 

The sudden drop in milk supply can become depressing. One moment your baby is nursing like there’s no trouble in the world, and suddenly it’s like your milk vanished into the air. 

A sudden drop in milk supply is even more shocking when you have no idea what’s responsible for the problem. 

In this article, we will look at the possible causes of this problem and what you as a mom can so to handle it. We will also look at how to improve your milk supply to your baby.

We know no price can equal how vital breast milk is to a baby’s development, most notably in the first six months of her life.

Causes of the Sudden Drop in Milk Supply

Several factors that are unknown to you may be responsible for the sudden drop in milk supply. Here are a few of them:

1). Stress

pregnancy + stress

Stress is one of the major causes of the unexpected decline in milk supply. As a mom, you should watch your stress levels.

Although the burden of worrying about a decrease in milk supply adds to your stress, unfortunately.

Try and control your stress level by listening to music and exercising. Eliminating stress would also assist your mental health.

2). Not feeding when the baby demands

feeding baby on demand

When you don’t feed your baby when he or she demands, it can affect your milk supply, and more.

Research conducted by the European Journal of Public Health shows that babies fed whenever they seem hungry usually grow up stronger, and make more intelligent at school, and measures high IQ.

Feeding when the baby is in need of milk is vital to your quantity of milk production.

Controlling or limiting the baby’s feeding harm the natural process of milk production and supply. The reason is that the human body supply of milk relates to the concept of “demand and supply.”

As you nurse your baby according to her demand, the more liquid the body supply.

We suggest that the best thing to do to avoid this problem is to feed your baby when he or she demands it. Also, watch out for signs that the baby is getting enough milk.

3). When you don’t pump between your feeding time

We have stated earlier that milk production in the human body operates on the concept of “demand and supply.”

When you don’t feed your baby at the right time, and you don’t pump your breast milk, your body will interpret it to mean you don’t need to make breast milk.

We suggest that you stimulate the breast or pump every three hours if you are one exclusive pumping or breastfeed the baby every three hours directly.

4). Decongestants

They are needed to dry up your cough, but they will dry up your milk supply eventually.

Typically, your amount would recover eventually, but we suggest you avoid them altogether.

5). Menstrual cycle

Your period is also a significant cause of a sudden drop in milk supply. The reason for this unexpected cause is because your body undergoes several hormonal changes during your period.

One thing experience has taught me is that it is not easy to know about your period causing drop-in milk supply.

When you become aware of this problem, we suggest you take calcium supplements. These supplements are known to be effective against menstrual issues such as cramps.

6). Not drinking enough water

dehydration + pregnancy

One thing lots of people take for granted is drinking enough water. Our bodies need water for lots of metabolic activities such as hormonal function.

Milk production is a process controlled by hormones. Drinking enough water would eliminate a sudden decrease in milk supply.

We suggest you drink as much as half of your body weight when you are breastfeeding a baby. Whether you’re breastfeeding directly or using breast pumps, either one doesn’t matter.

7). Over-exercising

We know exercise is good for your health. But sometimes we overdo it. When you over-exercise, it can affect your milk supply as a nursing mom.

Don’t engage in high-intensity exercises suddenly when you are breastfeeding a baby.

Also, ensure you drink enough water and keep up your calories. Consult your doctor or lactation consultant to determine which exercise is best for you.

8). Making use of the wrong size of flanges

Lots of mothers don’t know the right size of flanges their breasts require. Most mothers buy whatever their friends buy, and this is wrong because every woman is unique in their way.

When you use the wrong size of flanges, the breast pump will not look the breast correctly.

Because the breast is not appropriately milked, the body will start to think that you don’t need that much supply of milk.

The result is a drop in milk produced by the body, and it will lead to a decline in milk supply.

To avoid this problem, we suggest you get a hospital-grade breast pump after consulting with your doctor or lactation to assist you in picking the right size of flanges your breast needs.

9). Use of contraceptives

Using hormonal contraceptives or IUD can affect your milk supply. As a mom that is breastfeeding a baby, don’t use contraceptives while you are breastfeeding, you can try other forms of birth controls.

If you need to make use of contraceptives, use the copper- IUD ( paragrad). This IUD is not hormonal and should not cause any problems for you.

10). Sickness or illness

There is not much you can do when you are ill right. Illness will affect bodily functions, such as eating and drinking water. It will also affect hormonal functions. The disease affects milk supply. 

11). Insufficient calories

When you are breastfeeding your baby, it is essential that you make sure that you keep up your calorie level.

Try to determine how many calories you burn a day and try to up the number. 

Also, there are lots of lactation cookies around. Make use of them. Intuitive eating is one thing we suggest you do.

Listen to your body to know when you need to eat something.  Your body needs the energy to function correctly, and that energy comes in the form of calories you eat.

12). Herbs

Several herbs can cause a sudden drop in milk supply. It is difficult to notice this initially, but it is true.

We have recorded a few examples of these herbs. Lemon balm, sage, parsley, oregano.

All these herbs are culprits responsible for the decrease in milk supply. When you are breastfeeding, you should avoid using these herbs. If you don’t want your milk supply to decrease.

Additional, a sudden decrease in milk supply can be caused by psychological reasons like returning back to work after the expiration of your six months maternity period.

Also, your baby feeding habits can create a decline in the amount of milk produced.

The solution to the problem of a sudden drop in milk supply

We know you will think that fixing the issues listed above will put an end to the problem of a sudden drop in milk supply.

Well, that can work, but we want to provide you with other tips that can solve the problem that is not caused by the issues listed above. Below are our suggested solutions.

i). Increase your breastfeeding

To boost your milk supply after it suddenly drops, breastfeeds more. The more you breastfeed the baby, the more milk your body will produce.

Remember we talked about the concept of “demand and supply” when it comes to milk supply.

Also, if you’re pumping exclusively, increasing the pumping session and the frequency of pumping is the way to go. Pumping in between feeding is encouraged by us as well.

I will suggest power pumping too — power pumping for as long as 20 minutes with a rest period of 10 minutes in between. Power pumping sends a message to your body that more milk is needed.

ii). Replace worn out parts

After using your breast pump for a few months, it is usual for you to notice a drop in the amount of milk produced. The problem might come from the parts of the pumping device and not from you. 

The pump is a mechanical device, and like every mechanical device, a time comes when the parts need changing.

We suggest you get pumps that have easy replacement parts available. You can also get a pumping device that comes with replacement flanges.

Replacement flanges will ensure that the device works optimally for a longer time.

iii). Keep yourself hydrated

drink water during pregnancy

There is no denying the importance of water. Almost all human metabolic activities need water for the process to work.

As you breastfeed your baby, ensure you drink enough water. Keep yourself as hydrated as possible.

iv). Try a nursing vacation

When you notice a decline in milk supply, nursing vacation is the way to go. Spend a full day nursing the baby.

When the baby is not latched on your breast still stay near her. The purpose of staying near the baby is to help the production of the hormone oxytocin.

Oxytocin is essential for the production of milk. Taking a nursing vacation will boost your milk supply the way you can’t imagine.

v). Diet

pregnancy diet

The type of food you eat can improve diminishing your milk supply. Several moms spoke positively about oatmeal. You should try it. It can improve your milk supply significantly.

vi). Improve your lifestyle

Make wholesome lifestyle changes. Quit drinking because alcohol can affect your milk supply negatively.

Alcohol affects your let-down reflex and can influence the taste or flavor of your milk flow. Change in the flavor of your milk can make your baby refuse to latch on to your breast.

Then the baby would nurse less, and the milk supply would diminish further. Quit smoking too because like alcohol, smoking affects your milk supply negatively as well.

Smoking interface with the production of the hormone Oxytocin. We have already talked about how essential this hormone is to milk amount.

However, oxytocin is also vital to your let-down process. Let- down help the release of milk from your body. We suggest you quit smoking during the breastfeeding period.

If you can’t, then avoid smoking a few hours before breastfeeding the baby. If you don’t know how to go about it, talk to your doctor.

Also, excess caffeine can affect your milk supply. It is okay to take soda, coffee, and tea in moderation, but in excess, it can become detrimental to your milk supply.

Excess caffeine cause dehydration of the body. When passed to your baby, it can cause sleeping problems for her.

We suggest you drink less coffee and if you can’t moderate your caffeine intake, drink decaffeinated coffee or soda.

vii). Reduce the use of herbs 

Herbs intake can affect your milk supply. Herbs sometimes are beneficial, but some are detrimental to your health and milk supply.

We already gave a suggestion above on how to handle the issue of low milk supply caused by herbs.

Conclusion

A sudden drop in milk supply sometimes is not easily noticed. However, there are ways you can see it by watching out for signs of low milk supply.

Low milk supply signs include:

When your baby seems not to gain weight at all. The weight of the baby is supposed to increase as the months go by, but when he or she is not getting enough breast milk, they will lose weight instead of gain. 

Although loss of weight sometimes can mean other things, it should give you an idea of what is going on with your baby.

Another sign for you to look out for is your baby habit when it is time to feed. If your baby is regularly upset and often cries after feeding. It usually means the is still hungry.

If there is difficulty in let- down, you should know you are low on milk supply.

 We have provided you with the steps you can take to remedy the problem of a sudden drop in milk supply.

Take the steps needed to boost your milk supply because your baby deserves to have sufficient milk supply for her growth and development.