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Delayed or Not Enough Milk Production

When milk production is delayed or not enough:

A delay in the time when milk "comes in" sometimes occurs after the birth of a high-risk baby. Also, it is not unusual to experience a drop in the amount being pumped after several weeks. A drop may be gradual or it may occur suddenly.

Do not wait to get help if milk production is ever a concern. The sooner you intervene, the better. Ask a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC - International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants), your baby's nurse, physician, or a breastfeeding support leader to help you figure out what might be affecting milk production if:

Possible causes for delayed or low milk production:

Infrequent or insufficient breast pumping (milk removal) is the most common reason for a delay in the time when the milk "comes in," for insufficient milk production, or for any drop in milk production. A review of the number and length of pumping sessions should always be first thing you do if you are ever concerned about milk production.

It is easy to fall into the trap of letting more and more time pass between pumping sessions when recovering from birth and visiting the baby in the NICU. Also, a mother may initially obtain more milk quickly when several hours pass between pumping sessions. However, without frequent and effective milk removal, the breasts soon get the message to slow milk production. Within a day or two, a mother who pumps less and less often will start producing less milk.

Equipment checks:

If your breast pumping routine does not seem to be the problem, it may be the breast pump you are using. Be sure to use a hospital-grade, electric pump. For most women, manual (hand), battery-operated, or smaller electric breast pumps cannot establish and maintain milk production. Of course, even the best breast pump is still a machine, and machines can break down. Call the rental station if you suspect a problem and ask if they, or the manufacturer's representative, can check the suction with a special pressure gauge. If in doubt, ask to exchange the pump you are using for another one.

Maternal factors for delayed or not enough milk production:

Most mothers would much rather make more than their baby needs than to discover they are no longer making enough.

Click here to view the
Online Resources of High-Risk Newborn

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