Why Am I Not Pumping as Much Milk as Before?

As new moms, there are so many things that cause us stress. Is my baby getting enough sleep? Am I holding him too much? Did the new mom in that Facebook group really just tell me to stop spoiling my baby? While I can’t offer you too much help on what to say to nosy moms who think they know everything, I can offer you a little insight as to why your milk production might be slowing down.

Why Is My Milk Supply Low?

It’s something very common that happens with moms who are breastfeeding, pumping exclusively, or a combination of both. From time to time, you may notice a decrease in your milk supply and it can be really frustrating. We automatically blame ourselves for this — asking questions like “Is it something I’m eating or not eating? Is it my pump or the accessories? Am I drying up?” There is a simple solution to all of these questions that you should try before making any drastic changes to your pumping routine.

Make Sure That You Are Pumping Enough

It’s recommended that women breastfeed/pump at least 8-12 times per day during the newborn period, and then at least 6-8 times per day once breastfeeding is well-established. The number of ounces of breast milk that your baby needs per day generally follows an age appropriate guideline.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has published helpful guidelines on breast milk intake by age.

Increase Pumping Sessions

If you are using the age-appropriate guidelines and recommended schedules and your supply still seems low while pumping, you may want to moms up the pumping frequency. All you need to do is increase how often you are pumping, rather than increase how long you are pumping. For example, if you pump twice a day for 30 minutes, it may benefit you to switch to pumping three times a day for fifteen to twenty minutes.

This allows your breasts to be stimulated more often which will cause your body to produce more milk. Your body will only do what you tell it to so you need to make sure you’re giving it the proper instructions. Adding in one “power pumping” session per day, in which you pump about 3x in a span of one hour, can also help to boost your milk supply.

Make Sure You Are Eating and Drinking Enough

Breastfeeding and pumping moms need to consume an extra 300-500 calories per day.  Consuming less than 1500-1800 per day can lead to a decrease in milk supply. It is also important to make sure that you are drinking enough water and fluids - in most cases, being sure to drink every time you are thirsty will ensure that you are taking in enough fluid to make enough milk.

Examine What Medications You Are Taking

Certain medications can cause a dip in breast milk supply. These include antihistamines, such as Benadryl and Zyrtec, high dose steroids, estrogen-containing birth control pills, epinephrine, and any cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine (Sudafed). If you are taking any of these medications and experience a dip in your supply, please speak with your doctor about alternatives.

Remember Your Worth

Just remember that all you can do is your best in the situation that you are given. Having a newborn is exhausting already and adding another pumping time onto your already busy schedule can seem impossible. There are a number of reasons that some moms produce more than others and that’s okay. Just do what you can with what you have and know that that will always be enough.

About the Author

Jessica Madden, MD, is the Medical Director at Aeroflow BreastpumpsDr. Madden has been a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist for over 15 years. She's currently on staff in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH. She previously worked in the Boston and Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospitals. In 2018 she started Primrose Newborn Care to provide in-home newborn medicine and lactation support. She also enjoys traveling, yoga, reading, and spending time with her children.

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.