Do you have a low milk supply? First, is it actually low? KellyMom has an amazing resource page regarding whether or not a mom’s supply is actually low, and if it is, possible causes and solutions. I really can’t add more, as it is very comprehensive. However, some key highlights: If the baby is cluster feeding (nursing off and on for hours), it may just be a growth spurt. If the baby is fussy at the breast, it may just be a new awareness of the world around her, or a need to burp, or just plain baby fussiness. It may be related to the milk – a lower milk supply or letdown is common in the evening, but even that isn’t often a big deal.
Other things to consider – if the baby is moving down the percentile chart, it may just be the chart your pediatrician is using or just a regular slowdown that will later catch up at the next growth spurt. If the baby is slowing down on diaper output (fewer BM diapers, for example), it may just be an age-related change. And remember, birth-6 weeks is different than an older baby.
Please keep in mind that not all babies fit prescribed patterns – be safe and weigh your baby just in case, but personal experience indicates a two week old can go two days without pooping and be going UP the percentile chart. In fact, many knowledgeable moms indicate during a growth spurt that BMs slow down during a growth spurt because the baby is using the milk more efficiently. I would love to find actual research on this (or ask one of our contributors, the Lactation Chic at Holistic Mothering), but it fits my personal experience.
Here is another article on our site with useful information on newborn weight gain and stooling.
In general, there is a wide range of normal for poopy diapers for breastfed babies. And, in general, there is a wide range of normal for breastfed baby behavior. In fact, check out AlphaParent’s Timeline of a Breastfed Baby to ease your mind. Or, buy Breastfeeding Made Simple, a seriously easy, basic read on breastfeeding without all the complicated rules.
However, a combination of these things may indicate a low milk supply. If your baby is increasingly fussing at the breast, feeds for a long time (past the first few weeks, and for more days than an average growth spurt), has low diaper output, and is going down the percentile chart, then you might want to consider trying to increase your milk supply (and/or supplement either permanently or while trying to boost your supply).
So what can you do? What are the myths and what actually works? Later, we will be going over (or, er, linking a lot to the above sources) combo feeding/supplementing, pumping/nursing tips, prescriptions, and galactagogues.
If you have a medical issue (ex: Breast Hypoplasia/Insufficient Glandular Tissue) check out this podcast.