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Reasons Why Nursing Mothers Don't Produce Enough Milk

It's normal for breastfeeding mothers to worry whether or not their babies are getting adequate nutrition. A satisfied, well-fed baby will nurse every few hours, produce six or more wet diapers and several stools per day while steadily gaining weight. If your little one isn't getting enough milk, weaning him isn't the only alternative. Your doctor or a lactation specialist may be able to help you find a solution.

Infrequent Nursing

Going four or five hours between feedings might cause your breasts to fill with milk today, but according to KidsHealth it signals to your body that you're producing more than your baby needs. That causes your milk supply to start to diminish, and the longer you go without nursing or pumping, the faster your supply will slow down. Waking your baby for an extra night feeding or pumping between regular feedings may help boost your milk production. Supplementing your baby's diet with formula in the first weeks after birth may also slow your milk production, says breastfeeding expert Dr. Susan Crowe.

Breast Irregularities

The nipple ring that seemed like a great idea during spring break in Mexico could come back to bite you today. Any procedures or surgeries that have altered your breasts -- like implants, breast reduction or piercings -- could affect your milk supply. The problem might also lie in unadorned, unaltered breasts. According to "Today's Parent" lactation expert Teresa Pitman, some women's breasts don't develop enough ducts and breast tissue to produce adequate milk.

Medications and Substance Use

What you're taking in might limit what you're able to give out to your baby. Certain medications affect milk production, according to Elizabeth LaFleur, a registered nurse who writes for the Mayo Clinic's website. Medications that contain pseudoephedrine, such as many common cold and sinus drugs, can diminish your milk supply, and hormonal birth control can affect production. Smoking and moderate to heavy alcohol consumption also affect your milk supply, says LaFleur. If you want to drink, feed your baby just before, limit yourself to one cocktail and hold off on nursing for several hours afterward.

More Factors Affecting Production

Any number of medical conditions affecting you or your baby could impact your milk supply. Severe postpartum bleeding or pre-delivery treatment with magnesium sulfate may lead to poor milk supply, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome and untreated hypothyroidism are also possible factors, it says. A baby's struggle to feed also affects milk supply. A baby's difficulty latching on can negatively impact your nursing schedule, as can early use of a pacifier, says Pitman.

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