It happens to almost every nursing parent: you’re producing tons of milk in the first few months and then, around 3 months – it seems different. Your milk supply seems to be decreasing, as if your milk supply dropped at 3 months…
Is that what’s happening? Does breast milk supply decrease at 3 months? And are there ways to increase milk supply at 3 months? Here we answer those and other questions about milk supply levels after the “fourth trimester”, and how this may impact your baby’s sleep.
Does Milk Supply Decrease at 3 months?
Many mothers notice that their milk supply appears to be decreasing at 3 months and may wonder if you can increase milk supply at 3 months.
To answer the first part of that question, no, milk supply level does not decrease in the traditional sense – that is, you’re not making less milk. You’re simply making the same amount of milk at a different rate.
To fully understand this, it’s helpful to review the stages of milk production:
A few weeks prior to birth, your body will produce Colostrum milk – a nutrient rich milk a woman’s body creates specifically for the newborn.
After a woman gives birth, their body’s milk production shifts to producing mature milk.
Whether you breastfeed or not, you’ll produce the same amount of milk here. Milk production is the most rapid at this point, which is why a woman’s breast may feel very full, heavy, and/or leak milk.
About a week after birth, a woman’s body really cranks up milk production – it produces more than needed, creating excess supply just in case.
As time goes on, and your baby feeds, your body will regulate its milk production to match the demand. This adjustment typically occurs around 6-12 weeks post-partum… The fact that your baby is eating less amounts less often also changes the rate of milk production.
In other words: immediately after you give birth, your body produces a large amount of milk at once because it knows that newborns need a lot of nutrients in those first days and months.
Overtime, your baby eats a little less often, and your body adjust accordingly: it produces more milk less often.
By 3 months, your body produces breast milk more efficiently – it instinctually understands when your baby most typically feeds. Your supply is more “on demand” than “ever ready.” Wow! Isn’t the human body incredible?
Anyway, this “readjustment” can make it seem like you’re producing less milk overall, which you may be, but you’re also most likely still going to produce enough for your baby.
That said, very rarely milk supply does drop off. If you’re producing far too little milk, or none at all, or have concerns about your supply...consult a lactation expert.
Can you increase milk supply at 3 months?
Yes, there are a few ways to increase breast milk supply – feeding or pumping more often, breast compressions and drinking more water.
How Do You Increase Milk Supply?
Here are 3 ways to increase milk supply while breastfeeding:
- Breast Feed More Often: Even if your baby doesn’t eat much, bringing them to your breast will stimulate your body to produce more milk. You can also add a dream feed – or a night pumping (for at least 15 mins) – to your schedule to maintain a more regular, uninterrupted milk flow.
- Breast Compressions (before feeding): Also known as “draining your breast,” breast compressions move milk toward the front of the breast, making room for a “Top off.” To compress your breast, gently cup your breast from the back and slide your hand forward to move the milk closer to your ducts.
- Drink More Water: This is good advice in general, but particularly so when breast feeding. Breast milk is almost entirely water. By drinking more water, you give your body more of the raw material needed to create more milk.
Do Breastfed Babies Need Supplements?
Yes. Breastmilk is chock full of incredible nutrients and minerals that help your baby grow and achieve their developmental milestones , but breastmilk does lack sufficient Vitamin D. For that reason, doctors recommend babies who are exclusively breastfed be given daily Vitamin D supplements soon after birth.
Why Regular Pumping Is Important?
In addition to keeping you comfortable and helping to prevent blocked ducts, pumping breast milk can help keep your milk production on a healthy, rhythmic cycle and save up / store breast milk for feedings once you return to work, for example.
Your body instinctually syncs up to your baby’s feeding schedule – if you go too long without pumping, your body may start producing less milk.
How Often Should I Pump or Expel Milk?
Doctors recommend mothers pump or expel breast milk every 3-4 hours for your baby’s first 4-6 months to maintain consistent production and to help prevent clogged ducts.
Can Breast Milk Be Frozen?
Yes, freshly expressed breast milk can be frozen for up to 12 months, though closer to 6 months is better. If refrigerating your breast milk, it can keep for up to 4 days.
Does Birth Control Reduce Milk Supply?
Many women will begin taking a progesterone-only birth control around 3 months after giving birth. This birth control does not decrease milk supply. However, birth controls with estrogen can decrease milk supply. Avoid estrogen birth control or supplements while breast feeding.
If you return to birth control and your milk supply drops to unsustainable levels, you may want to consider either stopping birth control or switching to formula for your baby.
Does Breast Feeding Help Babies Sleep?
Every baby is unique, so it’s impossible to say with 100% certainty that “yes, breast feeding helps babies sleep better .”
We can say, however, that research shows breast fed babies need more night feedings than babies who drink formula. This is because babies digest breast milk faster than they do formula. As a result, many breastfed babies may need to night feed for longer, usually around 12 months.
Can I Drink Coffee While Breastfeeding?
Yes, you’ll be happy to hear you can drink coffee while breastfeeding. According to research, about 2-3 cups of regular coffee (about 200-300 mg.) are fine while breastfeeding. And, trust us, we know that caffeine can be helpful. (We also have some other tips on how to survive sleep deprivation , including “be kind to yourself,” because, honestly, raising babies is really hard, but we know you’re doing the best you can – and that’s perfect!)
For more helpful tips on helping your baby sleep, including how to breast feed while sleep training and step-by-step guidance through the sleep coaching process, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™.
“Do breastfed infants need other nutrition?,” Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development .
“Prevalence and outcomes of breast milk expressing in women with healthy term infants: a systematic review,” BMC Pregnancy Childbirth.
“Breast volume and milk production during extended lactation in women,” Experimental Physiology.
How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.