A True Low Breast Milk Supply

Information, Causes and What You Can Do About It

breast pump and bottles in front of baby
Jamie Grill.Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

There is a difference between a low breast milk supply and a true low milk supply. In many cases, a low breast milk supply can be increased naturally by making sure your baby is latching on to your breast well, breastfeeding more often, and pumping after or in-between feedings. However, a true low breast milk supply won't necessarily respond to the extra breast stimulation. A true low breast milk supply is often the result of an underlying issue that gets in the way of the production of breast milk.

If you have a true low milk supply, you may not be able to make enough milk for your baby even after trying all the usual solutions. So, you'll need an evaluation from a doctor or a lactation consultant to find out what's causing the problem.

The Causes of a True Low Breast Milk Supply

Here are some of the reasons for a true low breast milk supply. In many of these situations, once the underlying problem is found and fixed, breast milk production will increase. But, unfortunately, a small percentage of issues cannot be changed or fixed. In those cases, a mother may not be able to make enough breast milk. 

There are many causes of a true low milk supply ranging from emotions to lifestyle choices. They include: 

A True Low Milk Supply and Your Baby

If you have a true low milk supply, your child can't get the proper nutrition he needs to grow healthy and strong. Plus, your newborn can quickly become dehydrated and lose weight.

A baby who doesn't get enough breast milk will also have less wet diapers and bowel movements. Bowel movements help to remove bilirubin from your baby's body, so without enough of milk to make bowel movements, jaundice may develop.

These situations can be very dangerous for a newborn. So, if you know you're at risk for a true low milk supply before your child is born, discuss it with your doctor while you're still pregnant. If you already have your newborn and suspect there may be an issue with your milk supply, talk to your doctor right away.  

Things You Can Do If You Have a True Low Milk Supply

The most important thing you can do is to see your doctor or lactation consultant for an examination to identify and treat the cause of your low milk supply. You can also try the following: 

    Can You Keep Breastfeeding With a True Low Milk Supply?

    You don't have to give up the breastfeeding relationship with your child just because you are unable to produce enough breast milk to breastfeed exclusively. You can breastfeed along with supplementation. Any amount of breast milk that you can give to your baby will be beneficial. And, even if you do not produce any milk at all, some children enjoy and benefit from comfort nursing.  

     

    Sources:

    Anderson, A. M. Disruption of Lactogenesis by Retained Placental Fragments. Journal of Human Lactation. 2001; 17(2): 142-144.

    Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

    Marasco, et al. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Connection to Insufficient Milk Supply?. Journal of Human Lactation. 2000; 16(2): 143-148.

    Rasmussen, et al. Obesity May Impair Lactogenesis II. The Journal of Nutrition. 2001; 131(11): 3009S-3011S.

    Sert, et al. Clinical report of 28 patients with Sheehan's syndrome. Endocrine journal. 2003; 50(3): 297.

    Continue Reading