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Insufficient or Delayed Milk Production When Breastfeeding

Most mothers worry at some point that they do not have enough milk. A delay in the time when milk "comes in" sometimes occurs in mothers dealing with certain health conditions.

Do not wait to get help if milk production is ever a concern. The sooner you intervene, the better. Ask a certified lactation consultant  and your doctor to help you figure out what might be the problem affecting milk production, so that you and your baby can begin to correct it.

Infrequent or insufficient breastfeeding (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 production. A review of the number and length of breastfeedings should always be first thing you do if you are ever concerned about milk production.

Occasionally, a mother has a health condition that may temporarily delay the large increase in milk production usually seen between three to five days following birth (postpartum). These mothers may not begin to produce large amounts of milk until seven to 14 days after giving birth. If this happens to you, do not feel discouraged. Continue to breastfeed frequently even if you also must give your baby infant formula for a few days.

Research has yet to discover whether the cause for a delay in increased milk production is due to a health-, pregnancy-, or birth-related condition; certain medical treatments for such conditions; or a delay in frequent breastfeeding that often occurs with such conditions. Some of the conditions, or treatments, that experts think may contribute to a delay include the following:

  • Severe stress

  • Cesarean (surgical) delivery

  • Postpartum hemorrhage

  • Maternal obesity

  • Infection or illness with fever

  • Diabetes--juvenile, adult-onset and gestational

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Strict or prolonged bed rest during pregnancy

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 12/27/2013
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