The Sixth Month Drought

Did you know that breastfeeding is started in 76.9% of newborns, while 47.2% are breastfed at 6 months, and 25.5% at 12 months? Source

This is amazing considering that in 1972 only 22% of women breastfed! Source

The greatest part is that mothers are choosing to breastfeed their infants past 6 months, and even up to a year. Why is this great? Because the AAP recommends that infants be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months and then complementary feeding until at least 12 months of age.

WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years.

My own mother breastfed her babies for 18 months or longer, which was virtually unheard of when we were kids. 

I knew when I was pregnant that I was going to breastfeed for as long as was mutually desirable for us both. 

And then the six month drought happened.

During Christmas, both Sawyer and I got the flu and my milk started to decrease. I wasn't completely dried up, but there was a definite decrease in my supply.

Since I was so sick and didn't eat very well, I started to lose a lot of weight, and, in combination with that, Sawyer was stuffy and had a hard time nursing for very long.

When we took Sawyer to his six month check, the doctor was concerned because his weight and height were below the 5th percentile (she said the height was the most concerning). We discussed ways to improve the quality/quantity of my milk and other ways to get his weight back up.

Just a side note: The nurse didn't measure Sawyer correctly, so when we went in two weeks later I asked her to remeasure him (I suspected an error because Sawyer fits in nine month clothing) and his measurement was two inches longer than the first measurement, putting him in the 75% percentile. This also happened at his two month check; they said his head circumference was in the 9th percentile, but the next check his head was in the 60th.

If you're baby has an abnormal measurement or weight, ask your doctor to remeasure to ensure that there aren't any mistakes; it will save you unneeded stress.

Anyway, since Sawyer won't take a bottle anymore (he just chews on it), and he refuses to be spoon-fed, I had to rely on my body to provide the nutrients he needs.

After a lot of research and implementing some breastfeeding principles, I was able to get my supply back, and Sawyer has been consistently gaining 6-8 oz per week.

As I've mentioned before, I absolutely love breastfeeding. Besides growing a baby inside of me, I feel it is the most amazing thing my body can do. I know that there are many moms who cannot breastfeed, and it is simply because of a lack of milk, definitely not from a lack of trying. There are also moms who are on the brink of losing their supply (like me) and this post is meant to give them courage, and hopefully give them the tools they need to get their supply back.

I'll try to keep this short and simple; if you are like me, then you probably hate reading posts that take hours to finish.

Your milk supply establishes itself around two months postpartum,

so this information is for those of you who already have an established milk supply, but are having a decrease around six months.

Here are some reasons why your milk may decrease after it is already established, and some suggestions of how to remedy it:


Estrogen inhibits lactation. Estrogen-based oral contraceptives wreak havoc on your milk supply, so try to find a non-estrogen contraceptive, like the mini-pill.

Not Enough Demand

Your breasts understand economics; the more demand for milk, the more they supply. Once your little one starts sucking less often, your body is told to lower the supply. 
Prolactin is one of the hormones responsible for telling your body how much milk to produce. Prolactin is produced when your infant sucks on your breasts. Your body also naturally produces a lot of prolactin for the first few months postpartum, but around six months your prolactin production hits an all-time low.

What I did: 
  • Put away the pacifier and bottle.
  • Feed on demand. Since the capacity of breasts vary, feeding intervals will vary as well. Feed whenever you think your little one is hungry and let them nurse when you would usually give them a pacifier.
  • Pump for 15 minutes after nursing. The prolonged "sucking" will help your body produce more prolactin, which will produce more milk.
  • Feed frequently during the night. Your body produces the most prolactin during the night, and consequently your milk production is highest at night.
  • Remove distractions while nursing. Sawyer is at the age where everything is amazing and spectacular, especially during nursing, which can get mundane after a few minutes. I had to start feeding him in our dark, noiseless bedroom to help him focus on finishing both sides.

Lack of Macronutrients

Macronutrients are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Your body needs both macro and micronutrients to produce milk. When you don't have those nutrients, your body will (1) take the nutrients from your body, or (2) stop producing milk. Neither of those options sound appealing, especially when you have a ravenous baby to provide for. You need to be eating 400-500 extra calories per day, and, according to my midwife, you need to keep an extra 5-10 lbs of extra weight for prime milk production.

Since I was losing so much weight, we suspected a thyroid problem, but after tests we found that wasn't the problem. I just wasn't eating and drinking enough to supply both of us with the calories and macronutrients we both needed.

What I did:
  • Ate lots of healthy (and semi-healthy) fats (almonds, avocados, coconut oil, organic butter, whole milk, cheese, etc.)
  • Drank tons of water (seriously, you have to drink a lot of water to keep up with your milk)
  • Ate frequently (a snack after every feeding)
  • Started taking prenatal vitamins again (I stopped after 3 months)

Alternative Treatments

There are foods, herbs, and essential oils that can help boost milk production if you haven't had success with the above methods. 

What I did:
  • Fennel and basil essential oils (my body responded well to fennel)
  • Ate tons of lactation bars and other breastfeeding snacks.
  • Oatmeal every morning.
  • Yoga and relaxation techniques.
  • Fenugreek
  • Mother's Milk tea
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Parsley

Now I'm producing 4-5 oz on each side and Sawyer is gaining weight like a champ. It was a lot of work to get my milk supply back up, but it was well worth it.
If you are experiencing the "six month drought," don't give up! Do some research, talk to a lactation consultant, or attend a La Leche League group in your area. They are a great support and resource and can answer your questions or concerns.

What was your experience with breastfeeding at six months? Did you experience a decrease in milk? 


  1. Thank you for posting this! I am so glad our babies are so close in age because I love hearing your advice!! Jack will be 6 months next week and I definitely feel like my milk supply is decreasing. We have only fed him solids twice and did cooked egg yolk but need to keep experimenting. Thank you for the tips!

    1. Me too! It's great to read about what other mothers are going through at the same time you are. I've heard a lot of moms say that their milk supply decreased sometime around 6 months, it's kind of sad if you are planning on breastfeeding for longer than that. Yeah it's weird that milk decreases even if you are breastfeeding full-time. Hopefully something works for you!