Milk Supply Problems

Most mothers do produce enough milk for their babies

Breast Milk Volume

Milk supply problems can cause concerns for mothers. Sometimes there is no problem at all. If it is low, then this is usually a temporary situation.

The most important time for a mother to establish her breast milk supply for her baby is in the first 10 days. During this time milk synthesis is initiated as an endocrine response to the baby suckling as frequently as the baby desires (this may be 10-12 times in 24 hours).

If the initiation phase of lactation is disturbed, it is likely to negatively impact on breast milk supply and is possibly irreversible.

Referral to a specialist health professional is warranted.

All mothers and babies will have different feeding routines due to the size of the baby and the breast's ability to synthesise milk.

It's quite normal for babies to have a time in the day when they cluster feed (many short feeds over a period of time). It's also important to allow this to happen.

At the end of the day, milk volume is less than in the morning but will still be enough to satisfy baby. However, this is usually when babies cluster feed and is often confused with the belief that the mother doesn’t have enough milk.

Supply = Demand:

Breast milk is maintained by the frequency of milk removal. Therefore, anything offered to a baby that will interfere with milk removal will potentially reduce milk supply.

Previous maternal breast surgery may affect initiation of milk supply. A detailed history is essential to establish the potential effects on lactogenesis. Referral to appropriate Health Professional will be required in conjunction with support from the ABA.

NOTE:  Most mothers have established their milk supply by the end of the first month.

Always remember, the first 10 days are crucial for establishing milk supply.

Dummies and artificial formula can cause milk supply problems.


Offering a baby a dummy in the first 4 weeks without checking if they need another feed may begin the weaning process.

Take time to get your milk supply established if you’re breastfeeding.

Artificial formula

Giving a baby artificial formula in the early days when a mother is experiencing feeding issues may interfere with the body’s ability to initiate adequate milk volume.

A baby’s need for frequent feeds in the early weeks is normal behaviour.  This is NOT an indication of inadequate milk supply.

If babies are given artificial formula to settle, then the mother will start to reduce milk volume. This will commence premature weaning.

NOTE: Complementary feeding may be necessary. However, this would only be advised following a full breastfeeding assessment by an appropriate health professional (Lactation Consultant).

An unsettled baby is not always a hungry baby: real milk supply problem versus perceived problem.

In the early weeks, an unsettled baby does not always indicate a hungry baby. It is normal for babies to be unsettled as they are learning to adapt to life. Babies have a biological desire to suck because this is soothing for them. Consequently, this is one of the reasons why they have long slow feeds in the early weeks.

The frequency of feeds is not always an indication of low milk supply. All babies have their own feeding personality, some are very efficient and settle well while others like to graze and take their time.  Of course, others will have a long feed and need a quick top up to finally settle.

Cluster feeds at the end of the day are often perceived as a supply problem instead of being a normal part of breastfeeding. At the end of the day, the breasts have less available milk than in the morning. However, when the breasts are less full, the milk has a higher fat content. Babies know to cluster their feeds to obtain this.

Note: Most mothers do produce enough milk for their babies - Milk supply problems are usually temporary.