Lactation crisis

lactation crisis

The lactation crisis can affect us at every stage of breastfeeding. Did you know that according to the data of the Central Statistical Office of Poland in 99,4% of women after breastfeeding start breastfeeding, but after 6 weeks only half feeds?


That is why every single day of breastfeeding is our great victory. Most of us finally give up in the fight for feeding, mainly because we do not have access to the right knowledge, support, help or just a warm word, and even have to fight with loved ones who are young, insecure in a new role moms say that she has "weak milk", that "the baby is hungry" and "treats you like a pacifier" (by the way, it is worth answering the question which came first: breast or a pacifier? ?).


I have always heard about the lactation crisis as the beginning of the milky way and was prepared for it. However, the lack of food after a few weeks of feeding completely surprised me. 


What is the lactation crisis?

Usually, we talk about a lactation crisis when we, as a mother, feel that we are not able to fully meet the needs of our baby's milk.

We can meet with the lactation crisis both at the very beginning of our milky way (I met it every time after delivery), and later.


The lactation crisis for the first time

In fact, it can be said that our milky way has begun with the crisis. Three and a half years ago, Mikołaj was born by caesarean section, slightly ahead of schedule, and with him only a few drops of food came. I did not have adequate support in the hospital then, also from the staff. Fortunately, I had an experienced sister who convinced me that apparently only 5% of women in the world do not manage to start lactation (if they try very hard) and I certainly do not belong to them, so if I try properly, I will feed .


The aforementioned support from the hospital consisted in ... administering the infant formula. At the same time, however, I fought for every drop of food. I really regretted that I hadn't taken a breast pump or any lactation support drink to the hospital with me. Of course - all these things could be delivered to me later, but I was losing valuable energy and time during which I could already support milk production and not wait idly, which deepened my frustration.


Luckily, I received a breast pump from Wojtek, and a instructions from my sister, i.e. pump at least every 3 hours by the 7-5-3 methodwhich consisted of:


  • attaching the baby to the breast for a maximum of time, and then on
  • attaching the right breast pump for 7 minutes and pumping
  • attaching to the left breast 7 breast pump and pumping
  • attaching the right breast pump for 5 minutes and pumping
  • attaching to the left breast of the breast pump for 5 minutes and pumping
  • attaching to the right breast pump for 3 minutes and pumping
  • attaching to the left breast of the breast pump for 3 minutes and pumping
  • repeating everything after 3 hours, which we count from the beginning of the series
  • pumping, so after less than 2 and a half hours.


You know what broke me the most? The fact that this pumping did not result in anything but my frustration and exhaustion, because apart from taking care of the newborn, I had the impression that I was only pumping the rest of the time, and worst of all, not a single drop of milk appears in the breast pump. However, it is perfectly fine - here the breast pump stimulates the breasts to produce milk.


It was only on the second day of pumping that the first drops of food began to appear, and it was literally just a few drops that were not even able to be extracted from the bottle to be given to the baby. If it weren't for the support of my closest sister and her faith in me, I don't know if I would have had the strength to fight like that. Unexpectedly, however, on day 3, the desired food finally appeared - I noticed that suddenly the baby started to swallow while attaching it! There was a food that, if I only worked with a breast pump, she might not have noticed, because initially - surprisingly - it was not able to be pumped with the breast pump, but the baby was doing it perfectly.


Lactation crisis after delivery for the second time

When I was going to give birth for the second time, I was much better prepared. For example, I already knew how many milliliters of food the baby needed in the first days after birth, and that feeding with artificial milk in the first day was inadvisable (this was confirmed by the neonatologist on the ward when the midwife insisted on feeding 18 hours after birth). I did not succumb to such persuasions to feed the Child, which allowed me to believe in myself, which - I am sure - grows with each subsequent child. I took the breast pump with me and pumped it whenever I had free to help me produce milk after another caesarean section.


A load of food

When a few days after giving birth, I experienced a large amount of food, each time I felt extremely confident about our milk future. It was a surprise for me that about 3 weeks later the breasts stopped filling with milk and as if "producing it in reserve". My body learned to respond faster to the baby's milk needs and no longer had to store such amounts of milk, being able to produce it almost on the fly. When lactation stabilizes, our breasts may again be soft and even seem empty, and it does not mean that we have too little food, and even more so that our food is disappearing.


The lactation crisis for the second time

The first perinatal lactation crisis after that happened to me, when Maks was less than 3 months old. He spent more and more time only on his breasts, and feeding ended up making him nervous and crying. Intervals between feedings were shortened from 2 hours to sometimes several minutes, and after feeding Maks did not fall asleep calmly. What's more, the feedings increasingly frustrated him.


So it was not difficult for me to notice that I did not have enough milk. What's more, this situation began to repeat itself, especially in stressful situations or after moments of separation from the Child, when, for example, I left them for a few hours with Grandma, and I had to run some errands myself or ... after a whole day I realized that I was absorbed in my duties I ate little, and most of all I drank almost nothing.


My methods for the lactation crisis


1. Time only for a child

When the lactation crisis comes, I try to save 24-48 hours almost only for Maks.

I try to lead a nice home life. I put all my duties aside and try not to let Toddler out of my sight. I answer all his feeding needs instantly. I hug him as much as I can, wear it in a sling, let him sleep on his arms to keep body to body contact as long as possible, or even skin to skin.


Instead of cooking, I can order food, and if it is possible, it replaces me in all my duties Wojtek.


2. Relaxation

I try to relax as much as possible during the crisis. Don't think about anything, just about children. Play, cuddle and be with you for days.


3. Feeding = a glass of water

I have noticed many times that when I am absorbed in some activity, I forget about taking the right amount of fluid, and this is one of the first steps to reduce food supply. For me it goes hand in hand with a very intense and specific headache. That is why I always try to stick to the rules, especially in a crisis, that I must drink at least a glass of water during each feeding.


4. Breast pump support

In times of crisis, I sometimes end up feeding the good old 7-5-3 pumping method, but usually a shortened version of 5-3-2 - the same one I used in the hospital after giving birth. I try not to feed Maks ... as long as we both have enough strength. I admit that in a very crisis situation I happened to feed Maks with my previously expressed milk, as well as with a mixture, but always, always, I combined supplementation with the 7-5-3 method. I try not to allow a situation in which, during a crisis, I artificially increase the supply of milk to the Child, without stimulating the breasts to increase milk production - I am sending a message that: Hello! We don't have enough milk! We increase production! This is especially important during the first 6 months of the child's life, and absolutely important during the first 6 weeks, when all lactation is forming.


5. Barley malt

In addition to drinking water, I also reach for additional support, often without waiting for a crisis, but when I feel that I have a "weaker" day and Maks eats more often and for less than usual. Then I reach for a glass of warm milk (I personally choose rice or oat milk due to Maks's allergy to cow's milk protein) with a supplement containing barley malt. During the crisis, I drink one portion every morning and another in the evening.


Until recently, I associated products to support lactation only with herbal teas, so I admit that barley malt surprised me a bit. So I found findings:


128 healthy mothers who suffered from a real food shortage were tested.

Each of them, apart from advice, received a recommendation of supplementation with the product of barley malt 2x daily.

After 14 days, 93% of women achieved lactation improvement, which consisted of:

  • prolonged regular swallowing time in 91% of children,
  • increase in the amount of food removed by 240%,
  • the supply of milk replacer was more than doubled.


There can be only one conclusion from this study: the supply of barley malt helps fight the problem of insufficient food.

[source: M. Nehring-Gugulska, MD, PhD, Associate Professor M. Kucia, M.D. E. Wietrak, Stimulation of lactation with the use of barley malt and the child's growth parameters in the case of a lactation crisis]


There are several products containing barley malt on the market, but after analyzing their compositions I chose Prolaktan from Prenalen. In addition to the extract of roasted barley and rye (which, according to the results of the study, increase the amount of food), it contains ruthenium (dairy product) and nettle (cleanses, strengthens and provides many vitamins and minerals), but also contains tryptophan in the form of pumpkin seed extract and vitamin D, B1, B6, B12, niacin and biotinthat provide 100% of the daily requirement already in the 1 sachet.


tryptophan is an amino acid necessary for the proper functioning of the body, which, because it cannot be synthesized in the body, should be supplied with food. Why is it so important? Because is a precursor to serotonin (a neurotransmitter regulating, among others, the mood and work of our digestive, cardiovascular and urinary systems), while the derivative of serotonin is melatonin. Melatonin, as we know, increases immunity and affects sleep regulation, which significantly contributes to proper lactation. Improper nutrition and stress can lead to tryptophan deficiencies, which can cause mood disorders and even depression..


Most of this important amino acid is found in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds, nuts, oatmeal, cocoa and broccoli. It is easily absorbed from the digestive tract.


Prolactan has a slightly banana flavor, it is mixed with yogurt or milk (also vegetable).

For me it is not only support for lactation, but also valuable support for my diet as a nursing mother.


The main causes of the lactation crisis

In order not to lead to a crisis, it is worth knowing its main causes, and these are:


  • too rare or too short latching of the baby to the breast - our babies' need for breastmilk naturally increases, as does their age, weight and activity level, and babies naturally signal it by sucking on the breasts more often and longer, so called "hanging on the breast" it is nothing more than the prevention of a lactation crisis; remember that many breastfed babies require very frequent feedings in the afternoon and evening, which does not necessarily mean that there is not enough food,
  • feeding and watering the child - a breastfed child does not require drinking water or tea, if it were so, we would lose milk from one breast and tea from the other - nature knows best what we need; the composition of your milk changes from hour to hour, which is why sometimes milk with a consistency similar to water flows from your breast - the baby also wants to drink,
  • erroneous impression that the child eats artificial milk (often sleeps longer, eats less often), so your milk is probably not nutritious and calorific - but the truth is completely different - your food is simply natural and healthier, which makes it easier to digest and faster than an artificial mixture,
  • ineffective sucking, improper attachment of the baby to the breast,
  • anxiety and stress that block the reflex of spontaneous food outflow,
  • the use of casings for feeding.
    [source: Żukowska-Rubik M. Breastfeeding: technique, rules and common mistakes. Medical Standards. Pediatrics 2010; 7: 655-664]


And what are your experiences with the lactation crisis?

Or maybe you're just looking for support?

Do you want to be up to date with us?
Join us on Facebook i Instagram.

Leave a comment:

  • Ania

    Very good text. I owe the fact that I was breastfeeding to the midwife from the birthing school, who explained exactly that you need peace and not get discouraged right away 🙂 Because after giving birth, the little girl "sucked" on her breasts, but after a few hours she would not grab. Here my mother did not show off, who tried to force her to me ... "because her children caught right away, you are definitely doing it wrong" ... well, it happens. But also in the hospital, instead of helping me, they only asked if I wanted to give me infant formula ... I thanked my mother heartily, chased my mother home and when I was alone with Mała, I put her on my breast every now and then and ... finally surprised 🙂 I had enough food, The little one grew and gained strength 🙂 Unfortunately, after the third month, my food seemed to start to disappear, the stress won (my husband said that it was not for him and when the little one was a month old, it passed away from us ...), and I am so glad that I managed to feed so much . Now the little one is six months old and she cuddles to her breast only at night, and the best food is still 🙂 during the day I support myself with a breast pump and somehow we manage 🙂

  • Ola

    Unfortunately, I have flat warts, which after feeding in circulation go back to the old system, also without them we can not cope. So far, the small eagerly eats, sleeps very nicely, only the biggest problem we have with a downpour because each time after eating something returns outside even though it is reflected nicely 🙁 maybe you have some way for such a downpour?

    • Agnes Pijacka

      Olu, I also had such a problem with warts 🙁 At the hospital, the midwife recommended overlays to help Little catch. Now I have been feeding for over a month and I feel much better. The warts have developed and are doing great with my greediness (and vice versa) 😉 A downpour if you take it, it's natural if it rains a bit after eating. If your toddler is going to rain extremely hard every time, it's worth seeking help. And as for the bounce at the beginning it did not bounce at all, only recently it does, and a few days ago she finished two months 😉 Regards warm

    • Agnes Pijacka

      And as for the overlays, a small amount of food flowed down the cheek and ate more air than milk. Without overlays, I got a little tired at the beginning and it hurt, but WORTH ❤

  • Bianka Śmiałek

    Hello, Agnieszka 🙂 I have been reading your blog for some time, especially now when I become a mother myself at the beginning of August 🙂 I want to breastfeed very much and that's why I try to read as much as possible and I strongly believe that I will succeed 🙂 I love my mother-in-law, but how I hear these texts that her daughter did not succeed, that I have to buy bottles, a supply of mm and generally be ready that I will not feed, I burst out laughing 😀 I omit the fact that my sister-in-law still has a grudge against her mother that when after CC She had a problem with lactation and was looking for support, her mother was screaming at her with the bottle to the baby so that she would not upset her anymore, that she had to give up and that was what it was about breastfeeding. Fortunately, I have amazing support from my husband, who has already announced that at the beginning he will not let anyone into the house (I don't want it myself, and he takes 3 weeks off), so that I can rest after giving birth, take care of everything calmly with the baby, so that no one stands over my head, and if it would call a consultant, to help me <3 Therefore, the more I believe that we will succeed 🙂

    I am glad that you managed to overcome the crisis, happy anniversary and beautiful moments in Tuscany 🙂


  • Anna

    And our feeding is good because Antek is nice and eager to suck. He also gains weight beautifully. We've been feeding for 3 months but we have a different problem. The little one has a protein flaw. The pediatrician advised to discontinue everything that was given to the cow and also told me to give up eggs. I changed ordinary milk to rice milk, I read all the labels while shopping. Apparently, the appearance of the skin on the face and neck (because it has a rash) has improved, but it's still not what it should be. I am going to see a dermatologist for a visit, but I am terribly afraid that I will have to wean Small from breasts. The pediatrician said that if there is no improvement then you will have to switch to formula milk. I walk and cry because I don't know what to eat anymore, that would be good.

    • Marta Śliwińska

      We also have a rash, each doctor says differently 🙂 one that it is a diathesis, the other - irritation, midwife - baby acne :) I'm worried that everyone has a different opinion. So I wait until Mały is 100 days old and if the rash is still there, then I will go to a specialist. In my opinion, it is baby acne, which should then go away because I noticed that when it is cooler it has fewer pimples. I even got a steroid ointment, but when I read not to use it in children under a year, I do not open it :) and how does this rash look like? best regards

    • Anna

      Well, it just pales how calm or how cool it is. When you get angry, it becomes visible. The midwife also said it was acne, and the pediatrician that it was a diathesis. Antek has almost 3 months (I wrote above that we have been feeding for 3 months but it is not finished yet) maybe you really have to wait a little longer?

    • 24.03.2018

      I am sorry to write this, but with my experience today, I would change your pediatrician. I will be adding links on the blog to research that mm allergies will not cure, and mom's milk with leakages can. The most and every day I regret that I let the pediatrician persuade my pediatrician to discontinue kp and mm. I believed I was doing well. I couldn't do anything worse. The allergic march went, the larynx, the bronchi… now I did not give up and we are recovering from the allergy. I read a lot of studies that allergy is less harmful than cow's milk, and for allergy sufferers it is cow's milk. Long history, 8 months of my studies and practice under the supervision of doctors. Today Maks is 8m tall and I can eat baked milk - no allergy symptoms <3

  • Elwira Władyczak

    My breastfeeding adventure has been going on for 3 months now. But it is not the same feeling as everyone describes the wonderful closeness, etc. My feeding is constantly stressed by the fact that the little one eats too little, that she sucks too little, that she tears her head off her breast every now and then, for a short period of time clearly swallows, wants to eat on average every now and then what an hour, an hour and a half ... I'm still afraid that he doesn't eat enough. This is my first child and I don't know if she eats for 6-7 minutes, she is able to eat…. it is very tiring for me….

  • Marta

    We are only at the beginning of this path. My son is 7 weeks old and we already have a flood of food, a crisis and inflammation of the breast ... from the first days I had problems with feeding the baby to the breast, which contributed to the wounded nipples. They were so massacred that each feed is stress, pain and tears. Consultations with a lactating midwife helped us. We managed to do it 😉 he is feeding all the time, my son, as you can see by his weight, eats too much, I have milk for two children. I didn't think I would fight that much for this feeding. A month of feeding in great pain, but now the worst is behind us. It was worth surviving the worst moments. Now feeding is pure pleasure. I hope there are many months of feeding ahead of us 🙂

  • 05.03.2018

    Well, I wish you good luck - it cannot be otherwise with your determination 🙂

  • 28.02.2018

    Madziu, but you are brave! I always say that breastfeeding is a huge sacrifice otherwise! Apparently, some moms have lactation on the verge of crisis because of less contact with the child, for me, the midwife recommended each attempt to attach to the breast even a second or two before expressing the milk, so that the impulse goes to the brain. And what teas did you try? Because the granulated ones are often sugar, so only herbal ones are better, and Prolactan based on barley malt works great for me, have you already tried?

  • 27.02.2018

    But you did it the first time! I can't imagine such happiness at all 🙂 You are doing it beautifully, 12 months again 🙂 I wish you such beautiful results 🙂 Today Maksio has 7 months and I can't imagine that I could not feed him anymore, I don't think so 🙂

  • 27.02.2018

    This is the greatest difficulty I have encountered, I have the impression that I can survive everything else, but these comments, though completely idiotic at times, can cut the wings the most. Sometimes a person wants to give up only to finally hear that they are doing something right. Therefore, with the Second Child, I had the courage to say that I do not accept guests at first, and only started when my lactation and… self-confidence normalized.

  • Katja

    Reading about the fact that using a breast pump often at the beginning of your and my son's milk journey, it seemed to you that it lasts forever, I remember my months ... with a young mother at every step, feeding the baby when it was under the lamp, and worse! for half a day after giving birth to a natural child, water was still seeping from the baby's mouth and he was not eager to eat, no one of the staff saw him, probably only after 6-7 hours, when the nurse came up, she thought about it and 'taped out' the water, then he started grabbing his breasts but if he drank the shit earlier ... I don't know that 🙁 in the 1st day at home after the whole hospital horror, I had a lot of guests and I felt embarrassed by the fact of stretching my breasts in front of everyone, I went to the bedroom but it happened that my sisters-in-law or mother-in-law stood over me and they watched if I could do it and why this child is so nervous ... 🙁 The next day I had stagnation, fever, chills, the child did not want to grasp my hard breast, another nightmare. I did not have a breast pump, I remember that all night I was manually sucking milk into a bottle that we got for free .. after all my husband bought a breast pump and so I took 6 hours a day for milk, the baby was asleep - I at the breast pump, woke up, ate it - I had to set aside and continue to pump. After a month I invited a lactation consultant but unfortunately it was too late to change. Honestly, I don't know how I went through the next 6 months! I can still hear the night humming of the breast pump at night, I wanted my son to have my milk so badly that I never fed him with a mixture, there was always plenty of milk 🙂 I was so dairy and consistent in pumping that I had surplus milk - I even gave frozen meals to my mother who gave her a daughter who has a rare disease. I admire every mother who managed to breastfeed her baby, but I bow to the women who spend every free moment expressing milk with a breast pump (they will not always collapse the breast-baby connection by themselves, sometimes a premature baby is born or a baby with a cleft palate and there is no choice). breastfeeding mom and breastfeeding moms differently 🙂

    • 27.02.2018

      Katja, but a beautiful story! I always say that breastfeeding is the most difficult type of feeding differently. Hats off! Because as you say, time to rest, for whatever you have so many times less! Because you also pull and feed and wash, sterilize, heat! Amazing, but you're brave!

  • Helena

    Bravo Agnieszka! As always, great, substantive text. We are 10 weeks old and one crisis is behind us - we managed it and we are still breastfeeding. It is not always easy and sometimes I have a head full of fear whether our baby is eating, because he sucks briefly, but very greedily. However, I do not listen to the "kind" people, but to myself and I assume that since she often soaks diapers and gains weight nicely, everything is ok.

    • 27.02.2018

      Thank you! And applause for you! 10 weeks is a very, very long time, you explain it all to yourself, keep it up. <3 Sometimes it's so hard to believe your intuition.

  • 23.02.2018

    Hello! I'm only at the beginning of pregnancy, but I've always wanted to breastfeed, so I'm already reading and learning a lot about it. Most of my friends say "I had no food, the baby was crying all the time - because it was hungry, etc." I already know that I will not be able to count on any support from them. And that's what I fear the most 🙁

    • 27.02.2018

      Cool! You tremendously increase your chances of success! You have to close your head to these comments, I recommend the book "Just breastfeeding" and "Milky Way" - the latter is super uplifting in the most difficult moments and debunks a lot of myths, gives great arguments for discussion with the mother-in-law 😉

  • Katarzyna Boroń Maciej Łyczywe

    A great article! We also have a feeding problem. The baby is over 3 months old and usually grumbles while breastfeeding and cries. When I get up and walk around the house, I drink nicely. Sometimes the milk gushes out of my breast, but even if it doesn't go away spontaneously, the small one often whines 🙁 at night there is no problem. Unless I also fly a lot it is. Sometimes I don't know what to do anymore. I want to feed as long as possible, but it's hard for me 🙁

    • Ania

      I had the same problem, that is, I think I have so far, but less. I cope with this, I only feed one breast on one day, and on the other I pull out only enough so that it does not hurt. The corcia is calmer on a soft breast ... hehe but she has gotten so used to walking and feeding that she still won't eat otherwise. At night it's perfect for that, so you can do it and don't give up

    • Katarzyna Boroń Maciej Łyczywe

      Thank you 🙂 I thought I was the only one doing that .. I heard "why are you walking with her?" You just get used to her! ”
      Thanks again, you lifted my spirits!

    • 27.02.2018

      At this exact age, I had the same problem! It started somewhere around 6-8 weeks and lasted a few weeks - and I was also breastfeeding while wearing 🙂
      It was also very helpful to distract the child completely from feeding, because in this huge cry Toddler bent back and chances of feeding decreased. And then another attempt to stop. However, I also consulted with the lactating midwife, because sometimes I was pumping a little bit of food before feeding. The midwife recommended further observation and even considered herbs to reduce the amount of milk, but in the end we didn't need it, everything calmed down by itself 🙂

  • Weronika

    Thank you for this article - you show that it's worth fighting for! I am a mother of a 4-month-old baby who was born through cc and in the first day I did not have the courage to fight with the midwives who were feeding the baby, "let you rest after the surgery" (what a nonsense ...), but later I was consistent.
    In my case, the lactation crisis had the opposite form, and it is also worth saying: from the 5th to the 15th week, constant (every few days!) Stoppages and inflammation of the breast due to excess food - if not for the support of the lactating midwife, I would not have a chance to maintain lactation, because untreated inflammations lead to until milk production ceases. Once the hormones stabilized, everything returned to normal. You have to believe that you can overcome the crisis, because the most important thing is our head 🙂 🙂

    • 27.02.2018

      Oh yes, it is very valuable what you say, with the first Child I also had stagnation many times, and even twice inflammation and a fever of 39'C. Congratulations on overcoming the difficulties 🙂

  • Joanna Samek

    The sentence "every single day of breastfeeding is our great victory" should be on the fridge in every young mother's home, beautifully written :).
    It was similar with the crisis for me, first of all, the fight for milk production and then, about 3 months, another crisis. The closest ones advised "give artificial", but being aware of the problem, I said firmly "no, it will pass" and it passed :). If mom knows about obstacles, it is much easier to overcome them. Your post is a valuable source of knowledge 🙂

    • 22.02.2018

      Thank you Asia: * It's all true. I also think that the most common reason why we do not breastfeed is the lack of support from relatives or even loved ones. We became moms, we have a total storm of hormones and we just want not to let down our Child, the most important person in our lives. At this time, when even the crying of the Child can cause our self-confidence to shake, the words "you have no food" or "you have too little food" or "he is still hungry" hurt mentally and physically. Sometimes I felt like giving this bottle only to finally hear the words "you are doing well" at least once 🙁 With the first Child, I lacked courage, but with the second child I did not receive guests until I was confident in my new role and my feeding enough to hear such words and deal with them. Although when Maks was 5 months old, and I heard "Wojtek, give him a bottle of milk, because he is crying from hunger", he just had smallpox and everything hurt and itchy, it hurt a lot.