Congratulations! You have made it through the first 6-weeks. You’re sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and perhaps unshowered. But, you’ve done it! You and your baby have nailed this breastfeeding thing…or so you thought. It seems suddenly, your breasts feel less-full than they did the same time last week. You can lie on your stomach to sleep now without major discomfort; you’ve noticed your breasts aren’t leaking like they had been, or maybe your pump output has taken a hit. “Great,” you think, “just when it felt like things were settling down, I’m losing my milk supply.”
But wait! I have great news for you! What you’re experiencing is not atypical, in fact, it’s the norm. And better yet, this is not a sign that your milk supply has totally diminished or that you’ll no longer be able to exclusively breastfeed your baby. This is your body regulating its milk supply to what it is your baby requires.
Your body has spent the first 6-8 weeks becoming acquainted with your baby’s natural routines and needs and has now been able to develop a feedback loop in which you’re making what it is your baby needs, rather than constantly having extra milk that makes you feel uncomfortably-full. Thankfully, the previous engorgement and leaking and heaviness is not meant to last for the duration of your nursing experience. You can think of all that as the body’s hormonal fail-safe to be sure baby has enough milk while you’re both figuring out this nursing thing. But now that things have been established, your body dials back a bit and relies on the cues of how often and what volume of milk is being taken out of the breast to then “know” how much milk to have available at a given time.
Remember that the best way, outside of weight-checks, to determine if your baby is getting enough milk, is to be aware of diaper output. After the 6-week mark, a minimum of 4-5 wet diapers per 24-hour period, indicates that baby is feeding well. If your baby is nursing regularly, seems content, and diaper output is good, then take a deep sigh of relief. Feel confident in your body’s ability to provide for your baby as you exit the newborn phase and bid a sweet farewell to those overly-full, leaky breasts.