August is National Breastfeeding Month, which was created by the USBC (United States Breastfeeding Committee) and is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to empower women to breastfeed and to bring awareness to the latest research showing that babies who are exclusively breastfed for six months are less likely to develop ear infections, diarrhea and respiratory illnesses, and may be less likely to develop childhood obesity. In addition to the health benefits, breastfeeding also nurtures the beautiful bond between mom and baby. So, what happens if you aren’t producing enough milk or even aren’t producing any milk?
This is a common worry. Lactation consultant Karyn-Grace Clarke, president of the British Columbia Lactation Consultants Association explains, “I would say that the majority of breastfeeding women will have concerns about their milk production at some point.” However, only an estimated 1 to 5 percent of women are physically unable to produce enough milk to feed their babies. Diana West, IBCLC (International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant) and co-author of Making More Milk says that assistance from a breastfeeding expert, or changes in breastfeeding techniques, such as the ones listed below, can help boost milk production significantly. Here are some of the most common causes of low milk production and some strategies that may help:
- Insufficient glandular tissue
- Hormonal or endocrine problems such as PCOS
- Previous breast surgery
- Birth control pills, patch or injections
- Certain medications or herbs
- Anatomical issues or ability to latch
- Medications used during labor or jaundice
- Breastfeed as often as possible. The more you feed, the more milk you will produce.
- Pump your breasts more often.
- Check your baby’s latch.
- Don’t believe the myth, “The more you drink, the more you will produce.” Only drink enough to quench your thirst
- Avoid the pacifier and bottle.
- Take advantage of weekends or two to three consecutive days where you can feed and pump around the clock.
- Find healthy ways to de-stress.
- Create a feeding schedule.
- Increase nighttime feedings.
- Ask your doctor about herbal remedies, such as Fenugreek, or prescription medications.