What is Breast Milk Oversupply?Many women naturally make more milk than their infant needs. Sometimes an oversupply is created by over stimulating the breasts by doing both breastfeeding and pumping. Having an oversupply of breast milk can be uncomfortable for both a mother and infant.
Signs of Oversupply - Mom
The following are signs of oversupply in the mom:
- Leaking a lot of milk
- Breast pain from feeling overly full
- Nipple pain, usually from the infant biting, chewing or clenching down to slow a very fast let down
- Recurring plugged ducts or mastitis
Signs of Oversupply - Infant
The following are signs of oversupply in the infant:
- Gulping, coughing, choking or sputtering during feedings
- Frequently detaching from the breast during feedings
- Fussiness between feedings and/or cuing to feed all the time (even after drinking plenty of milk)
- Frequently spitting up
- Passing lots of gas
- Explosive, green, frothy or watery stools; maybe even mucus or blood in the stool
- Overly fast weight gain
- May be diagnosed with “reflux,” “colic,” “lactose intolerance,” or even “failure to thrive”
Since both mothers and infants usually have symptoms, treatment is often a two-step process.
- Feedings at the breast must be more comfortable for mother and infant.
- A small decrease in milk production will make feedings more enjoyable for mother and infant.
Suggestions for managing feedings with a very fast milk flow
Here are suggestions for managing feedings with a very fast milk flow:
- Try feeding when your infant is drowsy
- Offer the breast before it gets overly full
- If your breast is overfull, hand express or pump just the initial fast flow of milk and then latch your infant
- Try feeding positions that use gravity to slow the flow of milk, such as a laid-back nursing position
- Burp frequently and give your infant breaks to pace him / herself
- Firmly press the pinky side of your hand into your breast (like a karate chop) during the initial fast let down to slow the flow of milk. As your infant's sucking slows down, release your hand to allow milk to flow.
Suggestions for making a little less milk
The following are suggestions on how to make less milk:
- Use only one side for a three-hour block of time, returning to the same breast if your infant cues to feed again in that time frame. Express a minimum amount from the other breast only as needed for comfort, until the next three-hour block.
- Gradually increase the time blocks up to 12 hours per breast, as needed.
- There are medications and herbs that can be used if these strategies do not work for you. Call your lactation consultant or The Center for Breastfeeding Medicine at 513-636-2326 for guidance.
Stop these strategies as you decrease your milk supply and feeds become more comfortable.