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When You Doubt Your Milk Supply

This last month has been crazy and not in a good way. At the beginning of September I started experiencing some severe pelvic pain. I couldn’t figure out what it was or where it came from. After lots of doctor visits and an MRI I found I still had SPD from pregnancy and had injured myself starting an exercise routine too soon postpartum. I could write an entire post about SPD and the lack of postpartum care in our country compared to some European countries, and I probably will, but it's not what this post is about.

This post is about stress and what it can do to your milk supply. I have been lucky to always have a great supply, even an oversupply while nursing. After three babies the only time I have ever doubted it was during the  days after my first baby’s birth, when she was in the NICU and I had to pump initially. But, during my doctor visits I missed some feedings and ended up with mastitis. Now mastitis is probably more associated with over supply than a low supply. While over supply and not draining my breasts may be what led to mastitis initially, after the pelvic pain, stress, and mastitis I noticed my supply seemed to go down. I still was not concerned, I figured it would go back up with plenty of nursing.


Then I took my daughter to her four month well visit and after her height and weight check I asked the pediatrician if her growth was good. Maybe this was my mistake. Maybe she wouldn’t have said anything to me, but then she looked carefully and said my daughter had fallen a bit off of her curve. Now my daughter is about 50% for everything so not a size issue, but my other kids were big babies. Always 75th-90th percentile so of course I wonder. To tell you the truth I kind of like having a bit smaller baby. My son was breaking my back by five months.

Now her doctor was asking me about my supply and saying maybe I am not producing quite enough for each feeding. Considering all my stress, and having just had mastitis, this left me feeling worried. She suggested I pump and see how much I produce noting that three ounces might not be enough but five probably would be. I know that a baby is much more efficient than a pump but agreed I would check it out. Then I felt all those mommy guilt feelings, what if I wasn’t producing enough, what if I was assuming I always had a great supply, and what if I was somehow depriving my daughter. While I figured it was probably fine I also felt worried. It's a common, familiar parental worry and guilt all moms feel from time to time.

I decided to spend a few days working on my supply before testing it out with a pump. I always fed on demand but I fed a little more, I upped my fluids, and I ate more. I had started counting calories recently in an effort to lose some baby weight so I added more calories and ate more frequently. And, I definitely believe my supply rebounded. I started to even wake up feeling slightly engorged. I woke one morning and fed my daughter and since I still felt full decided to pump. Nine ounces. Wow, I think that takes care of my fears and I feel grateful to know everything is most likely fine. Who knows why my daughter is a little behind her growth curve. Maybe she isn't, I swear she had a growth spurt the week after the visit. I can only say I have learned to be more mindful of my milk supply and not take it for granted going forward.

Please let me know, have you ever doubted your milk supply?


Thursday 20th of October 2016

Jen, your story reminds me of the early months of breastfeeding my daughter.

I used to envy an oversupply mom, lol, until recently my friend told me her 'oversupply' nightmare, and now you. I am actually kind of your opposite, I never felt engorged, no leaks, and was in constant worry if my daughter gained enough weight. To be honest, I was laughing when reading your baby is on 50% and slightly falling off the curve. Mine was hovering at 10% and 3% (so your case is definitely much better than mine!) and every time I went to the doctor, I was afraid that the doctor would say my baby failed to thrive. But anyway, my daughter started picking up weight once she started solid (6-mo) and quickly reached 50% percentile *sigh, that was a huge relieve* And I look at her now, a super-talkative toddler that never fails to make me amazed, I almost forgot how challenging the early months were...


Friday 21st of October 2016

Hi Rina,

That must have been so tough to never know if your supply was enough and worry about it. I admit it isn't something I worried about much so for the ped to say that really took me aback. I know 50% is fine, but according to the Doctor it was lower than her curve. So glad to hear how great your toddler is doing! It's easy to forget all those early challenges.


Friday 14th of October 2016

Such an encouraging post. I had a low supply with my twins in the early months... However, i upped my fluid intake and the flow got better.


Friday 14th of October 2016

Hi Angie, Thank you! I'm glad to hear you were able to increase your supply.