Common reasons for milk supply dip at 3-4 months
You get through those early days and weeks feeding your newborn and you are ready for some smooth sailing! Then seemingly overnight your milk supply seems to drop. Let me first say not everyone has a drop in supply at this 3-4 month postpartum mark, but it can be a prevalent time to hear from parents with supply concerns!
Here are some common reasons for a decline in breast milk supply around 3 months postpartum:
- There are latch, feeding, or pumping issues that seemed to go away or never got resolved. If your baby did not latch well or was compensating in some way to get milk, then your supply could have been down-regulating over time. Likewise, if you have been using the wrong flange size or having pain with pumping that has continued, this can also slowly reduce supply. Milk production starts off as a hormonally driven process but by this point postpartum, your milk factory is strictly supply and demand. This means in order for you to maintain your supply either your baby or pump needs to demand it frequently and efficiently. Also, at this time your baby’s suck reflex integrates! This means feeding before was primarily automatic and now your baby has control over sucking or not! If they are struggling to eat at the breast they may start letting you know this now!
- You began supplementing because of low supply or perceiving your supply was low, so your baby started nursing less and removing less milk. Since this is the time your milk supply regulates, you may notice your breasts are softer and become less engorged than they used to in those early days. This is normal as your body adjusts to making just the amount of milk your baby needs and doesn’t always mean you are making less milk. If you start to supplement your baby and in doing so removing less milk, than over time your body will produce less.
- You went back to work. This might mean more stress, not responding well to pumping, missed pumping or breastfeeding sessions, or fewer times a day removing milk. If your baby was nursing on demand 9-10 times a day, and now you are only removing milk 7-8 times a day this could impact your supply.
- Your period returned. Some parents notice a dip in their supply around the time of their menstrual cycle. The hormonal fluctuations can cause this temporary dip. For most, this is just a temporary dip around the time of their cycle.
- Your baby starts sleeping a longer stretch at night. Again, this can cause a dip if you are removing milk less frequently than you used to when your baby was waking to eat. Some parents are more sensitive to skipping nighttime milk removal than others (has a lot to do with your breast storage capacity).
- You start hormonal birth control. In general, you want to stay away from birth control containing estrogen. Even if your birth control is estrogen-free you should monitor your milk supply when you start taking it. Everyone has different responses to birth control and even those without estrogen can impact milk supply for some people.
There can of course be other reasons for a drop in milk supply, so if you are concerned and cannot figure out the root cause seek the support of a lactation consultant. Identifying the cause is the first step in coming up with a plan to get you back on track.
Witten by Nicole Schwartz