How to Survive a Sudden Drop in Breastmilk Supply

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Real life is no porno.  Large breasts are uncommon, and even they can run out, so for most people, running out of milk is common.  It is no suggestion that you are malnourished, undernourished, or emaciated in any capacity.  That there is not a whole lot for your baby to eat other than breastmilk makes this conundrum doubly frustrating, especially if your breasts had plenty to offer (to your baby, not your partner) the day before.  While a sudden absence of breast milk is unpredictable and mission-critical, there’s more than one way to diagnose the problem, and each diagnosis points to a solution.  Again, while a sudden drop in milk supply may be a problem, it is also a common problem, and you are far from the first one to experience such frustration.

Is There a Problem?

In general, milk supply varies daily for every person.  As long as your baby is receiving some amount of milk when you feed it, then there is no problem.  Drops in breastmilk do not become problematic until you have an inkling that your baby is not receiving enough food.  Monitor weight and general growth to ensure that undernourishment is not occurring.  While babies experience drops in weight as you may experience drops in breastmilk supply, you ought to take note of stagnations or abrupt changes in growth patterns.  Either could be a sign that your baby is undernourished.

Another thing you will inevitably monitor is how often your baby pees or poops.  This article would suggest, “Use the restroom,” to be less crude, but such a feat is above a baby’s pay grade.  Fewer poops might suggest dehydration.  Whip out your phone’s notepad and keep track of them, if you are particularly concerned.  Dehydration can manifest itself in other ways, too: Monitoring dryness of the mouth, the skin, or behavior may shed light on how much water is in your baby’s body.  Examining these three items is a great way to discern all signs of baby dehydration.  If a baby cries more often and does so without generating tears, then this could also be a sign that your baby is dehydrated.

Establish the Cause

Once you establish that your baby is indeed suffering from a drop in your breastmilk, the next step is to establish the cause.  The most common cause is that you are not feeding enough.  The more your body thinks your baby needs, then the more it will produce.  Refusing to stick to a consistent schedule may make your body so complacent as to stop generating milk for your baby.  It will not invest in something it does not think is necessary, as it is an incredible tool honed by evolution over thousands of years.  Go figure.

Sticking to a more consistent feeding schedule is a good start, but there might be other things going on.  Hormonal changes may arise from new medication, birth control or otherwise, and hormonal changes may bring about changes in availability of your breastmilk, in which case you need only wait for your body to reset.  As your baby starts eating solid food, you will inevitably need to feed less breastmilk, leading to a satellite problem of the more common scheduling issue.  

Also, monitor what is going into your body, too.  Drinking too much water can cause fluctuation in the availability of breastmilk, and more mouths to feed will require you to consume more calories.  Make sure you tank up on calories if you are breastfeeding.  Stress may also decrease breastmilk, but if you address the delicate balance between your sleep schedule and your baby’s sleep schedule, then you may mitigate stress just enough to limit the loss of breastmilk in your body.  Finally, the only time you should slip away from your breastfeeding schedule is if your baby clearly wants more food.  Babies are generally not much for conversation, so take note of physical cues like lip smacking, grabbing at your breasts, or your baby bringing hands to its mouth.

The most immediate way to address all of these problems, perhaps even before sticking to a more consistent feeding schedule, is for you to schedule two or three days during which to nurse your baby as often as possible.  During this time, be sure to sleep, eat, and hydrate enough for both you and your baby.  Each feeding session should last for about twenty minutes.  Finally, be attentive to any problems your baby might be having with regard to feeding or latching.

Getting calories from specific sources might also be in order as a simple way to generate more milk.  Including more lean meat, leafy greens, and whole grains in your diet will generally increase your breastmilk supply, so remember diet goes a long way.

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