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Breast Feeding

Decrease in milk supply

03/13/2007

Question:

My wife has been breast feeding our 1 and a half month old son from his birth. Over the last few days we have noticed a decrease in milk supply. Yesterday we found that her milk suplly has totally stopped. She is having severe headache too. The baby has been crying non stop and he wont take the formula too. We dont know what to do next. Is there any way we could increase her breast milk. She also had less appetite for the past few days and so she has been taking less food than usual. Could this be a factor. Also, I would like to know about the ways by which we could increase the milk supply again.

Answer:

It sounds as if your wife is ill. The reason I am speculating this is that she has lost her appetite and has a headache.

Although you did not mention a fever, I would not be surprised if she has at least a low grade fever.

Loss of milk supply has many other possible causes, from going back to work to taking birth control pills. Even when the baby starts sleeping longer at night, Mother’s supply goes down.

The most important thing is to realize that formula is ok at a time like this, because the baby needs to eat something in order to stay healthy.

Sometimes the baby refuses cow milk formula, but will take a soy based formula.

Mom needs to at least drink plenty of fluids, and not just water. It would be good to eat a balanced diet and if she cannot, she may want to see a physician to see if she needs some kind of care.

If she is well, she can increase her milk supply by pumping her breasts gently with a good electrical pump every 3 hours in the daytime and every 4 hours at night.

She should feed any pumped milk to the baby and supplement with a (soy) formula either by supplemental nursing system (a tube at the breast) or a bottle.

She should try to rest (lying down) for at least one hour every afternoon.

She may wish to take Fenugreek, two 610 mg capsules 4 times per day for at least 2 weeks in addition to al of the above suggestions. The Fenugreek is an herb that can be purchased in most Health Food stores. It is a maple flavored herb, well tolerated most women and effective by 5 to 10 days in most women.

I truly hope this helps.

Please do not hesitate to write again if you have any other questions.

Best of Luck!

For more information:

Go to the Breast Feeding health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM
Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati