Can Stress Decrease Breast Milk Supply? Find Out!

Stressed mother breastfeeding

I don’t think it’s possible for any mother to be stress-free, ever. I have personally nursed through a divorce, loss of a job, deaths in the family, illness, etc.

Milk supply has a lot more to do with stimulation and anatomy than it does with stress. Women worldwide breastfeed their babies even in times of war, famine, and natural disaster. If mother’s breast milk just dried up due to stress, then practically all babies would be formula fed.

If your supply is low, you need to figure out why (other than the stress issues) and take steps to remedy the problem.

There are many causes of low milk supply, including yeast infections, tongue-tie, jaundice, maternal medication, illness in the baby, flat or inverted nipples, breast infections, and more.

Solutions might include pumping, relaxation techniques, breast compression and massage, prescription medications, herbal remedies, or even supplementing with formula. Whatever it takes, the many benefits of breastfeeding make it worth the effort.

I like to think of the mom’s first months with a new baby as being in the “survival mode”. This means that whatever you have to do to get through the day, whether it is using a swing, a sling, a pacifier, a babysitter, a glass of wine, even a bottle of formula, it’s okay. Take it one day at a time, and try not to get overwhelmed by it all. It gets easier with time.

The first few weeks of life with a newborn are challenging, especially when you’re worried about your milk supply. The most important thing is to make sure your baby is getting enough milk and gaining weight, while decreasing your stress level as much as possible.

For specific advice on how to increase your supply (including information about Fenugreek) read the article Increasing Your Milk Supply.

I hope you find a way to decrease your stress level. If you need help with depression, please contact your health care provider. Many medications used to treat anxiety and depression are safe to take while breastfeeding.

Anne Smith, IBCLC
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