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Low Breast Milk Production - Factors Responsible and Management

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Many mothers worry about breast milk supply during their lactation phase. Read the article below to know more about low milk production.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richa Agarwal

Published At October 19, 2022
Reviewed AtJuly 26, 2023


Breastfeeding is a natural way to nourish your baby, but numerous challenges accompany it. Nearly all mothers face these problems, especially during the initial days of breastfeeding. However, most women learn to overcome the hurdles and successfully attain breastfeeding experiences. Many women wonder if they supply their babies with enough breast milk in the early postpartum period. Since breastfeeding cannot be visualized, it is hard for many mothers to figure out the quantity of milk feeding.

Studies claim that most women produce enough milk to satisfy the growing demand of their infants. Suppose you are experiencing a decrease in the amount of milk production and are unable to feed your baby correctly. It is crucial to know the reason for your problem to correct it. Under such circumstances, you may seek the help of a lactation consultant. They will help you figure out the underlying issues that may hinder you from producing enough milk or if there is another issue causing the problem.

What Are the Factors Responsible for Low Breast Milk Production?

Although, insufficient breast milk secretion is rare. Still, most mothers are concerned about fulfilling the growing needs of their infants with their breast milk. Usually, most women secrete one-third extra milk than their infants need. However, numerous factors could lead to low milk production during breastfeeding.

The commonly known contributing factors include the following:

  • Delayed breastfeeding.

  • A more extended period of the gap between breastfeeding.

  • Dependency on formula milk rather than breastfeeding.

  • Improper latch (baby lips attachment to your nipple). It affects the sucking ability of the baby and compromises the breast milk supply.

  • An inadequate diet that lacks essential nutrients.

  • During weaning (introduction of solid food) and breastfeeding, breast milk intake decreases, ultimately causing a decrease in your milk supply.

  • Smoking affects the breast milk supply.

  • Lactation mastitis.

  • Intake of hormonal medicine and oral contraceptives containing estrogen.

  • A previous history of breast surgery can affect milk production.

  • Premature birth.

  • Pregnancy-induced blood pressure decreases the milk supply.

  • Intake of alcohol and nicotine is known to affect the breast milk supply.

  • Stress or anxiety.

  • Certain medications, including some over-the-counter drugs, can lower milk supply. Therefore, it is best to take any medicine when prescribed by your doctor.

What Are the Signs of Decreased Milk Production?

It is sometimes seen that everything is going smoothly between you and your baby, and some signs like soft breasts and poor feeding can be mistaken for low milk supply. These are typical signs that indicate the adjustment of you and your baby to breastfeeding. Nevertheless, if you feel that your baby is not getting enough milk and often feels hungry, it could indicate decreased milk formation.

The commonly known signs include the following;

  • The baby is producing fewer wet or dirty diapers.

  • The baby shows signs of dehydration.

  • The baby is not gaining weight.

However, certain signs are typical and should not be mistakenly considered abnormal. Many women in all populations experience all these signs. It signals the physiological changes in the body while adapting to breastfeeding.

These include;

  • Baby desiring to breastfeed more often.

  • Baby waking up for milk.

  • Baby is being fed for a shorter time.

  • The baby is not pooping regularly.

  • The breast is growing soft, and it is not engorged.

What Are the Signs Indicative of a Well-Nourished Baby?

It is problematic for all mothers whether their infant is getting enough milk supply. It is difficult to calculate the infant's nutritional needs as the mother could not detect the quantity of her milk secretion and the amount of milk that she is feeding her baby. All mothers suffer from the same concern, especially during the postpartum period. You should know that many changes are evident as the child is growing. These changes are different for every child.

Some common behavioral changes that are commonly known in newborns so far are;

  • Baby is waking up for food themselves.

  • The baby uses approximately six to eight diapers a day.

  • The baby seems happy and active between the feeds.

  • Your baby is passing a soft yellow stool at least once a day.

  • The baby is showing a gradual increase in weight.

How To Increase Breast Milk Supply to Meet Your Baby’s Needs?

Breast milk is a biological fluid secreted by the mammary gland. Breast milk fulfills the optimum need for the growth and development of newborns. The amount of milk formation is dependent upon its demand. There are numerous ways to increase milk supply naturally.

Some of the commonly known methods are;

  • Practicing a good latch.

  • Massaging the breast before, after, and sometimes in between the feed.

  • Attempting breastfeeding frequently.

  • Maintaining a skin-to-skin touch with your baby. It is called “kangaroo care,” known to increase the milk supply.

  • Extract extra milk from the breast after completing breastfeeding.

  • Applying warm compression to the breast before breastfeeding.

  • Using both breasts while breastfeeding.

  • Emptying breast at each feeding.

  • Avoid using bottles and pacifiers during the initial days of breastfeeding.

  • Getting plenty of sleep.

  • Take care of yourself.

  • Eating balanced nutritional food.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a well-nourished mother needs an additional 330- 400 calories per day, and the overall calorie intake should be 2,000 - 2,800 calories per day.

What Is the Best Food to Increase the Breast Milk Supply?

Some studies suggest that intake of some particular food can help mothers increase their breast milk production.

These include;

  1. Fenugreek seeds.

  2. Spinach.

  3. Fennel.

  4. Oatmeal.

  5. Brewer's yeast.

  6. Sesame seeds.

  7. Alfalfa.

  8. Yellow lentils (Moong Dal).

  9. Cracked wheat porridge (Dalia).

  10. Lactare capsules.


Breastfeeding as much as possible boosts milk production. Increased frequency of pumping and draining milk will let your body know that more milk is needed regularly. The fact is that most women do not need to do anything extra to achieve successful breastfeeding. However, if you have been diagnosed with a low milk supply problem, this problem is temporary and can be corrected with superficial modifications.

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Dr. Richa Agarwal
Dr. Richa Agarwal

Obstetrics and Gynecology


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