Not enough breast milk

When you first start breastfeeding, you may wonder if your baby is getting enough milk.

It may take a little while before you feel confident your baby is getting what they need.

Exclusive breastfeeding (breast milk only) is recommended for around the first 6 months of your baby’s life. Introducing bottle feeds will reduce the amount of breast milk you produce.

Things that can affect your milk supply

  • Poor attachment and positioning.

  • Not feeding your baby often enough.

  • Drinking alcohol and smoking while breastfeeding – these can both interfere with your milk production.

  • Previous breast surgery, particularly if your nipples have been moved.

  • Having to spend time away from your baby after the birth – for example, because they were premature: “Frequent gentle hand expression will help,” Zoe Ralph advises.

  • Illness in you or your baby.

  • Giving your baby bottles of formula or a dummy before breastfeeding is well established.

  • Using nipple shields – although this may be the only way to feed your baby with damaged nipples and is preferable to stopping feeding.

  • Some medications, including dopamine, ergotamine and pyridoxine. Read more about breastfeeding and medicines.

  • Anxiety, stress or depression.

  • Your baby having a tongue tie that restricts the movement of their tongue.

Ways to boost your breast milk supply

  • Ask your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist to watch your baby feeding. They can offer guidance and support to help you properly position and attach your baby to the breast.

  • Avoid giving your baby bottles of formula for the first 6 months or a dummy until breastfeeding is well established.

  • Feed your baby as often as they want and for as long as they want.

  • Expressing some breast milk after feeds once breastfeeding is established will help build up your supply.

  • Offer both breasts at each feed and alternate which breast you start with.

  • Keep your baby close to you and hold them skin to skin. This will help you spot signs your baby is ready to feed early on, before they start crying.