My Milk Supply Tanked--Now What?
When my little girl was about 8 months old, a weird thing happened.
We had been enjoying a mostly successful breastfeeding relationship and I had just enough milk for her. She had begun to eat some food and I started to notice a slight difference in what seemed like the quantity of my milk but I didn't really worry because she was eating a good variety of foods.
But then it happened. I woke up, tried to feed her and...nothing. I mean nothing. She was frustrated. I was worried, and this continued for almost a week...I would have some milk, but nowhere near what I was having and she was getting really upset.
I did all the things they tell you to do for low milk supply. I took supplements. I ate oatmeal. I drank my weight in water. I tried to de-stress. It helped, but not enough.
Finally, upon the advice of some dear friends in a support group, I gave up and we went to bed. For 2 days.
I took all my clothes off and for 2 days we did nothing but sleep and nurse and roll around and watch videos and be close to one another. I am pretty sure that what did it was just being close to her; giving myself time to force relaxation and look at her, notice things about her that I wasn't noticing before as I was busy hopping from place to place. I think just BEING with my baby skin-to-skin, smelling her hair, listening to her breath, and knowing that I was not allowed to do anything else is what did it. My milk supply regulated and we got back on track and continued until she was ready to be finished for good.
When I had my son a few years later, when I noticed a similar occurrence happening at right about the same time, I knew exactly what to do and it worked then too, though I didn't have the luxury of a two-day lay-in with him because I had a toddler to chase. I did however take large breaks from activity (HARD for me) to just notice him and be close to him in my awareness. Just as it had worked before, it worked again, and my milk supply normalized.
I think the biggest thing I learned about these sudden tanks in my milk supply is that for us the answer is always to reconnect with my baby, first.
It is still the answer with my now 5- and 2-year-old as we struggle through occasional behavioral and developmental battles. The answer is always to stop and reconnect. In fact, when things get really tough, we often do just stop and lay down and reconnect until the storm passes. Those struggles in my breastfeeding relationship with my children were really tough, but I am so glad that I learned them then, because they are making me a better mom today.
Lauren resides in Oklahoma with her husband and two children. She is a birth worker and an aspiring writer. In her spare time she loves to work out and spend time perusing old and new bookstores.