A True Low Breast Milk Supply

Information, Causes and What You Can Do About It

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A true low milk supply is the result of an underlying issue that interferes with the production of breast milk. If you have a true low milk supply you can't make enough milk for your baby even after trying all the typical solutions and you need an evaluation from a doctor or a lactation consultant to determine the cause.

Here are some of the causes of a true low milk supply. Unfortunately, you cannot increase true low milk supply in a small percentage of new mothers.


Common Causes of a True Low Milk Supply

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

  • overexhaustion and stress 
  • breast surgery, or any breast procedure that involves an incision near your nipple or areola, can damage the milk ducts
  • hypothyroidism
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • a very difficult birth and a recovery with complications
  • medications
  • underweight, extreme weight loss or obesity
  • lifestyle choices, including smoking tobacco, consuming alcohol, an excessive amount of caffeine
  • return of menstruation
  • a new pregnancy
  • lactation failure (a rare condition)

A True Low Milk Supply and Your Baby

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

The baby who doesn't get enough breast milk also has 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.

If you know you're at risk for a true low milk supply discuss it with your doctor before childbirth. If you already have your child and suspect an issue with your milk supply, talk to your doctor right away.

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

See your doctor or lactation consultant for an examination to identify and treat the cause of your low milk supply. In the meanwhile, try any of these suggestions that feels right for you:

    Keep Breastfeeding

    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. Any amount of breast milk that you are able to 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.  


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

    Lawrence, R. A., Lawrence, R.M. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional. Seventh Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2010.

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

    Newman, Jack, MD, Pitman, Theresa. The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers. Three Rivers Press. New York. 2006.

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

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