Where Is My Milk? Sudden Drop In Milk Supply
As a lactation consultant, I often get calls from distraught mothers who feel that their milk supply has suddenly dried up. Most of the time the mother is reacting to the changes in how her breasts feel. When our milk first comes in during the week after baby's birth, our bodies usually over produce making our breasts feel heavy and hard and even engorged. Over the first month or so, our bodies regulate the milk supply to meet our baby's needs. Once this happens, our breasts feel softer and lighter unless we have an unusually long break between feeds. This change happens quicker with subsequent pregnancies. Many mothers feel suddenly empty after the extreme fullness of the first month and are certain that their milk supply has vanished over night when it is actually just right.
Look At the Baby--Breastfeeding and Milk Supply
As I mentioned above, looking at our breasts on the outside does not give us an accurate picture of what is happening on the inside. The best thing is to look at your baby. Is your baby still nursing contentedly? Does he still show all the signs of getting enough milk? If so, you have nothing to worry about and can enjoy the fact that your breasts are feeling normal again. If, however, your baby has gotten very fussy at the breast, crying and pulling on the nipple, or falling asleep within moments of latching on, only to waken as soon as she is detached from the breast, you need to investigate further.
Causes of Sudden Drops In Milk Supply
A sudden drop in milk supply can often be traced back to a problem that existed from early on, such as a poor latch or infrequent feedings. In the beginning, the milk making hormones control the milk supply and milk is produced and flowing despite less than optimum management or technique. Once the milk supply comes under the control of the autocrine system, meaning milk will only be made as long as it is removed, the supply drops. This is one of the reasons for making sure that everything is going well in the early days.
The effects of scheduling or limiting the amount of feeds or their duration build up overtime eventually causing what appears to be a sudden drop in supply. Pacifier use and thumb sucking may cause the same type of reaction. Anything that limits feeds too much can be pernicious to your supply.
Hormonal birth control is often the reason that a milk supply suddenly drops. Best to use non-hormonal birth control until the baby is older including breastfeeding (LAM). Several other medications can dry up milk, including some over the counter cold and allergy preparations.
Get Lactation Help
A professional lactation consultant can help you determine if your supply is truly low and how to boost it back up .