Breastfeeding: Supply & Nutrition Know The Warning Signs When It Isn’t Working

It can be stressful as a new mother breastfeeding, and not knowing if what you are giving your baby is nutritious.  Usually breastmilk will be nutritious enough for your baby regardless of if your diet is nutritious.  This is because your body will pull nutrients from you to make nutritious milk for your baby. 

If you are nutrient deficient in some areas taking supplements can help.  If you are vegan you could be deficient in vitamin B12, which you get from animal products, so taking a B12 supplement can also help boost the nutrients in your breast milk.  There are some signs though that breast milk isn’t nutritious enough for your baby. 


Warning Signs That Breastfeeding Isn’t Working


Limited or No Weight Gain

The first indicator is usually your baby not gaining any weight.  Sometimes your baby can go through a growth stand still, where they may not gain any weight.  But if this lasts for a long time with no growing happening, you will need to speak with your doctor.  There is a cause of why your baby isn’t gaining any weight and they will want to rule out everything, such as illness or other factors before assuming it’s the breastmilk.   As well as stunted growth can be caused from nutrient lacking breastmilk.  This can be caused by a lack of Vitamin D.  You can get Vitamin D from your diet, or naturally from the sun.  Not enough Vitamin D can cause teeth problems, and even bone growth problems.  


Weight Loss

Another indicator is if your baby is losing weight.  Some weight loss is normal, especially right after birth.  Though baby’s should not lose more than 7% of their birth weight the first week after birth.  And they should be back to birth weight and gaining in week two of life.  


Developmental Delays

Low weight, and low nutrients can also cause developmental delays.  We all know the milestones babies are supposed to hit in a certain timeline.  Such as rolling over, sitting, turning their head towards noises, babbling, and grabbing for items.  Nutrients fuel the body and brain.  If there is a lack of nutrients the body and brain won’t be able to develop.  The lack of nutrients can prevent muscle growth or the brain to grow in the way it is supposed to.  This lack of nutrients can also cause babies to be extra low in energy.  Which can also lead to developmental delays, because there isn’t enough energy in your baby to work on the skills they need to learn.  


Often Sick

Baby’s who have a weak immune system can be nutrient deficient.  If you notice that your baby is sicker more than normal it can be because they are missing key nutrients that help boost their immune system.  The lack of potassium in their diet can cause immune cells to stay inactive when bacteria or viruses come attacking. 


Yellow Urine & Green Poo

Watching the baby’s output of urine, and bowel movements can be essential in seeing if they are getting nutritious breast milk.  A lot of urine output does not always mean that the breast milk is nutritious.  You will want to look at the color of urine, if it is clear that means the baby isn’t dehydrated.  Yellow or dark urine can mean dehydration.  Newborn babies should poop 3-4 times daily.  The color of poop can mean that their is a lack of nutrients.  Green poop can actually mean that the breast milk isn’t nutritious enough.  


Lack of Contentment

Other signs could be if your baby is more irritable than usual.  This goes for adults too.  Have you ever thought how hangry you can get?  Yes, your baby can be hangry too if they aren’t getting enough belly filling nutrient breast milk. 


Body Temperature Regulation

If your baby doesn’t regulate their body temperature well can also be a sign.  This can be because your baby isn’t gaining any weight, so they are smaller, causing them to become cold quickly. 


Bloated Belly

Another sign can be a bloated belly due to malnutrition.  This is from a protein not being absorbed correctly due to the body not knowing how to absorb nutrients appropriately.  


Mom Weight Loss

Baby isn’t the only one who can show signs from milk that isn’t nutritious enough.  If mom is losing too much weight very quickly that can be a sign.  This is because your body will pull nutrients from you to make breast milk.  This can make you malnourished yourself causing an increase in weight loss that is unhealthy.  Another sign is if mom is dehydrated. 


Breast Milk Boosting Options

There are places you can send some breast milk to, to get checked if it is nutrient dense enough for your baby.  Breast milk being not nutrient dense enough is very rare, even if you aren’t eating the healthiest of diets. 

Sometimes the problem can be quantity not quality.  Things you can do to boost quantity are watch for signs of your baby being hungry, not the clock.  This can be eating their hands, nuzzling whoever is holding them, fussiness, or sucking on a pacifier hard. 

Skin to skin contact is helpful in boosting your breast milk supply as well as pumping after every feeding.  You can also power pump, which in a way is like when you cluster feed your baby.  This is when you pump for a few minutes stop, and pump again after just a few minutes of rest.  This helps your body produce more in a short amount of time. 

Make sure your baby is draining the breast every time they feed, don’t stop them from feeding even if they are taking their time. 

Mom’s make sure you are getting enough rest, food and hydration to keep your breast milk supply up.  



Breast feeding or formula feeding are both good options for infant nutrition in most cases.  If you live in an area where your water system is compromised breast feeding may be your best option.

All babies and moms are unique.  And what works for one mother and child may not work for even siblings in the same house.  Watch for warning signs that all might not be well and stay in close contact with your health care professional.  They will have the expertise to guide you through the 1st year of life and keep both you and baby on track.  The goal is a healthy happy baby.  How you get there is not as important as the goal.


Learn More:  CDC Weight & Height Charts And Developmental Milestones


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