Low Milk Production
What causes low milk production?Occasionally, a delay in the time when milk "comes in" turns into an ongoing problem with low milk production. Sometimes, a mother has been producing sufficient amounts of milk, and then milk production slowly, or quite suddenly, decreases. Some of the conditions associated with a delay may also have an ongoing effect on milk production, including, but not limited to, the following:
- severe postpartum hemorrhage (excessive bleeding)
- retained placental fragments
- thyroid conditions
Other factors can also lead to insufficient milk production. Maternal smoking has been shown to result in less milk. Some medications and herbal preparations have a negative effect on the amount of milk produced. Hormonal forms of birth control, especially any containing estrogen, have been found to have a big impact on milk production. However, some mothers report a drop in milk production after receiving/taking a progestin-only contraceptive during the first four to eight weeks after delivery (postpartum). Milk production may also decrease if you become pregnant again.
If insufficient milk production seems to be a problem, yet the baby seems to be sucking effectively, your physician or certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) may recommend the following:
- Increase the number of breastfeedings to 10 to 12 in 24 hours.
- Increase the amount of skin-to-skin contact you have with your baby. Take off your shirt and baby's shirt and place your baby on your chest with a sheet or shirt over both of you.
- A review of your health history with you to discover if there may be a health condition, treatment, or medication interfering with milk production.
- pump your breasts for several minutes after breastfeeding, using a hospital-grade electric breast pump.
- ask your physician or a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) about taking a galactogogue, which is a medication or an herbal preparation found to have a positive effect on milk production.
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