Worried about low milk supply? Check out these common signs to see if there is something to be concerned about.
It’s common for breastfeeding moms to worry about low milk supply. We all want the best for our babies and want to be reassured that we are giving them enough to eat.
A lot of times as moms we worry and over analyze every little thing- and nothing is wrong. However, mother’s intuition is real and if you think something is wrong- it just might be.
What is Low Milk Supply?
In order to know if you have low milk supply, it’s important to understand what normal supply is.
A lot of people are surprised to discover that it’s actually not expected that you produce a ton of extra milk in addition to what your baby is consuming. It’s not having a freezer full of milk or pumping ounces and ounces.
Milk supply is considered “normal” if your baby is growing well on it – you generally don’t produce a lot more or less than what they need. There are plenty of false alarms when it comes to low milk supply!
In “Demystifying Pumping and Milk Supply” we have A LOT of information on milk supply, establishing and maintaining your supply, and how to do know if something is off. I know how easy it is to worry about milk supply, so my goal with this on demand course is to help you feel confident in what your body is doing. This class is included in “The Complete Online Breastfeeding Class“, but if you are just looking for milk supply, that class is for you.
Signs of Low Milk Supply
There are plenty of “false alarms” when it comes to low milk supply – which I discuss in this post. With that said, any of those signs – combined with any of the items below – definitely are signs that you need to work with a professional.
It’s also possible to have no other signs but the ones below and be struggling. When in doubt, get help.
Poor Infant Weight Gain
Weight gain is one of the biggest indicators of infant well-being. While some infants do have different weight gain patterns (this article called Look at the Baby, Not the Scale, is one of my favorites), if your baby is not gaining weight consistently, there is a cause for concern.
It can be normal for a baby to lose between 7-10% of their birth weight, especially if there were IV fluids used during labor. However, they should start to regain after a few days – and other signs of wellness should be assessed – including how well baby is transferring milk.
If, at any point, your baby starts to lose weight or stops gaining weight, you certainly should reach out to your medical provider and an IBCLC to assess what’s going on. Milk supply can certainly be an issue at play in these situations.
Again, weight gain is a complex issue – especially as the baby gets older – but it’s definitely a red flag when it comes to milk supply.
Insufficient Diaper Output
If your baby isn’t having enough diapers, you need to reach out to a medical professional.
What are enough diapers? Well, I’m glad you asked.
In the first fourish days of life, you can expect at least one wet diaper and one poopy diaper per day of life, so:
- Day One: One poopy, One Wet
- Day Two: Two poopy, Two Wet
- Day Three: Three poopy, Three Wet
- Day Four: Four poopy, Four Wet
After that, you can expect about 3-4+ poopy diapers in 24 hours and 5-6+ wet diapers in 24 hours.
Diaper count is usually something I take with a grain of salt, simply because unless you are really weighing diapers, it can vary what parents consider a wet or poopy diaper. However, you should generally be seeing stool that is at least the size of a quarter and a wet diaper is about 4 tablespoons of water – I suggest putting 4 tablespoons of water in a dry diaper so you can get an idea of how it feels.
However, if your baby does not seem to be having regular diapers, you definitely should reach out for help. This can be a sign of low milk supply if your baby isn’t getting enough to eat.
After six weeks, some breastfed babies go longer without having a poopy diaper. There’s a lot of debate on the normalcy, but as of right now, it can be acceptable if all other signs of wellness are there.
Signs of Dehydration
It is crucial for all new parents to understand what the signs of dehydration are in an infant. An infant – especially a newborn – can dehydrate quickly, and it’s essential to act promptly in the situation where a baby is dehydrated – or at risk of becoming dehydrated.
If you are noticing any signs of dehydration, it may mean that you have low milk supply. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Fewer than 5-6+ very wet diapers in 24 hours after 4 days of life
- Going more than a few hours without a wet diaper
- Tearless crying
- Extreme sleepiness (newborns sleep a lot, but they SHOULD wake up to eat)
- Concentrated urine – often it will also appear dark
- Sunken fontanelle
- Sunken eyes
- Lethargic when awake
- Dry mouth
- Dry mucus membranes
- Dry skin
Signs your baby is dehydrated may include dry mouth, irritability, dark urine, tearless crying and sunken eyes.
Keep in mind that the issues above may also indicate other issues – such as poor infant transfer, severe infant GERD, or some other issue that is causing your baby to have trouble. Working with a professional is essential.
If you are worried you are dealing with low milk supply- it never hurts to get help from a professional. It is much better to be reassured that your milk supply is good than to just hope it is and then end up with a baby who isn’t getting enough to eat.
And if your baby is showing signs of dehydrations make sure you reach out to your care provider immediately. This is a medical emergency.
Low milk supply can be frustrating – but in many cases, it can be resolved.
More Breastfeeding Posts You May Enjoy:
- Breastfeeding and Gestational Diabetes: Everything You Need to Know
- The Ultimate Guide to Dairy-Free Breastfeeding (From a Dairy-Free Mom)
- Pacifiers and Breastfed Babies: What All New Parents Need to Know
- 8 Breastfeeding Problems After a C-Section
- Why Is Breastfeeding Painful?
- Is Your Breastfeeding Baby Biting? Here’s What You Should Do.
- 8 Breastfeeding Problems After a C-Section (And What You Can Do!)
- 5 Essentials for Preparing to Breastfeed Your Baby
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.