There are lots of reasons why supply might drop
There are many reasons why your baby may not be taking enough breastmilk or why your supply might be dipping. It is possible to make changes to fix many of these and start to make enough milk for your baby.
Not enough feeds
You’ll make more milk if baby takes more. Most young babies need at least 8 to 12 feeds or more in 24 hours. Read more about feeding patterns in the early months.
Some mums look at the clock to see how long their baby is spending on each side. Babies do well when they can feed until they come off the breast on their own. Babies have had enough when their sucking slows, they let go or they fall asleep.
Topping baby up with formula
Extra feeds of formula will make your baby less hungry for breastmilk. In turn, this means your breasts will make less. Read about ways to reduce top-up feeds.
Early introduction of solids
Some mums are told that giving their baby solids will help baby to gain weight or help them sleep longer. However, this may make your baby less hungry for your breastmilk and so your supply drops. Breastmilk is the only food your baby needs for the first 6 months. If your baby needs to gain weight, there are lots of things you can do to increase your supply.
Illness and medications
Sometimes illness can affect your milk supply briefly as can some drugs, both prescribed and over-the-counter. You might like to discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.
Some women find that hormonal changes may affect how much their baby wants to feed and therefore their supply. These include use of contraception containing oestrogen, during ovulation or your period or if you become pregnant. A few extra feeds each day or an extra top-up at the breast is usually enough to bring supply up again.
Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine
Some mums find that too much alcohol, nicotine or caffeine may affect the let-down reflex and the production of milk. They may also make your baby irritable or restless. Try to limit these while breastfeeding.
Is it really low supply?
There are also a lot of reasons that mums may think they have a low supply which may not be true. Checking your baby's wet and dirty nappies as well as growth and overall behaviour can tell you more about whether your baby is getting enough milk.
Increasing your supply
Following your baby’s lead and feeding according to their need will, in most cases, keep your milk supply going well. If you do need to take extra measures to increase your supply, there are many ways you can do this.
© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022
Find out more about milk supply
Evidence-led info and practical tips from our Breastfeeding Information Series