Insufficient or Low Levels of Breast Milk

Delivery, Postnatal

Updated article : October, 2023.

Hello Parents,

You now have a new baby at home and you’re breastfeeding them. You might be wondering if you’ll have enough milk to meet your little baby’s needs. Growth spurts at different times in a baby’s life give parents the impression that mom’s milk isn’t rich enough. Or maybe she doesn’t have enough. But never worry about the quality of your milk. And a minority of mothers won’t be able to provide the necessary amount due to insufficient milk production. In this entry, I will talk about the circumstances that might lead to low milk production.

In this article:

When a health care professional sees you for a postnatal follow-up, they will gather information about your pregnancy and childbirth, and how your breastfeeding is going. They do this to better understand and advise you.

When milk production problems occur during the 3- or 4-week follow-up visit, parents will often say:

  1. That their baby is unsatisfied when breastfeeding, agitated, lets go of the breast, cries while feeding or even refuses to feed, bite the nipple or pull it when they throw their head back;
  2. They feed often;
  3. That the length and frequency of feeding increases, leading to nipple wounds;
  4. That the baby falls asleep due to fatigue. They will wake up a couple of minutes later and ask for more.

The caregiver needs to examine your baby to check their growth and development. Before assuming low breast milk production, they have to examine the whole situation before making conclusions and providing advice.

According to podiatrist Jack Newman, the mother is responsible for the milk transfer to her baby, and the baby reacts to the milk flow. They may fall asleep. Not because they’re tired but because the milk flow is slow. Too slow to encourage them to continue feeding. The baby stimulates the nipple when they latch on to it, but if they don’t suck strongly, it sends a signal to the mother’s brain to promote milk ejection. The baby isn’t a passive participant!

Breastfeeding isn’t really physically difficult for a baby. However, if they’re not properly latched on to the nipple, aligned properly, the milk flow might be negatively influenced, and this will indirectly affect the quality and satisfaction of the baby’s feeding. The moral of the story is that you have to PROMOTE GOOD MILK FLOW, as the baby reacts to the milk flow in their mouth.

Different causes can lead to low milk production in a new mother. These can be associated with her, her baby or poor breastfeeding practices.

Causes of Low Milk Production Due to the Baby

  • Take the situation where a baby has very weak sucking capacity or a baby who is very sleepy. For example s premature baby who has difficulty latching on the breast for sufficient time. As quickly as possible after childbirth, you have to promote the mother’s satisfactory milk production and flow. This will keep them awake and increase the quality of their feeding. If the flow is slow and difficult to obtain, their sucking efforts and their response to low milk flow will make them disinterested doing it. They will prefer falling asleep.
  • The baby can’t latch on to the base of the nipple. Why the base of the nipple? Because that is where the neurotransmitters are. If they baby only latches on to the nipple, the stimulation isn’t the same. The message sent to the brain to stimulate production isn’t the same either. This can lead to low milk production. You have to re-evaluate the baby’s position on the breast. Simply changing the alignment can make a difference for latching.
  • A baby with severe jaundice or hypotonia (lack of tone).
  • Mechanical causes include a baby with torticollis, plagiocephaly, cleft lip and/or palate or a short tongue frenelum.
  • A particular health condition, such as a muscular or skeletal problem (mobility disorder) or a cardiac, neurological or infectious problem.

To read the next part, click on the following link: Low Milk Production Causes due to the Mother and Breastfeeding Practices.

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Insufficient or Low Levels of Breast Milk

Par Marie Fortier Temps de lecture: 3 min