What many moms view as a blessing is another moms curse. Oversupply can provide your baby with an abundant amount of milk, which truly is a blessing when it comes to the art of producing. But it can also bring on some other not so great things that make both mom and baby uncomfortable.
Signs of Oversupply
Oversupply is obvious for some moms. While others question things in silence while they struggle. Oversupply can happen for a variety of reasons both intentionally and unintentionally. Some signs you may be dealing with an oversupply:
- Your breasts feel hard, full, or heavy all of the time. Even after feedings.
- Your baby has difficulty latching. (there could be other causes for a poor latch)
- Your baby comes off the breast during let down
- Your baby gulps, chokes, or coughs while nursing
- Your baby may struggle with excess gas or spit up after nursing
- You deal with clogged ducts or mastitis often
- Your baby arches or pulls away from the breast while nursing
- Your baby has foamy, watery, and green stools
- Spraying of milk when baby comes off the breast
- Frequent leaking several weeks into the postpartum period
If you have one or even all of these symptoms, you may be dealing with an oversupply. I would encourage you to seek out a professional like a IBCLC (lactation consultant) or your local breastfeeding hotline to determine if oversupply might be the cause for you or your baby’s discomfort.
Managing and Regulating Oversupply
Trying to reduce your supply may make you nervous at first but in the grand scheme of things you really only need to make what your baby eats/needs. The first goal should be managing mom and baby’s comfort. This can be done in a variety of ways and will be different for each coupling.
- Try a laid back nursing position. Gravity can help slow the flow of milk so babe isn’t being choked by a fast or forceful letdown.
- Pull babe off for the letdown. You can either catch the milk in a towel or in a bottle if you want to freeze it for later.
- Manually express milk after or between feedings. This should only be done to your comfort and not beyond. Pumping can send the signal to make more milk so you should only be taking the pressure off and not pumping until you are empty.
- Avoid any lactation boosting teas, foods, and supplements.
- Try using hot or cold compresses before or between feedings to help with comfort.
If you are still dealing with an overabundant amount of milk there are other more aggressive ways to help reduce supply. These methods should be done under the supervision of an IBCLC to avoid any potential issues of hampering your breastfeeding success.
- Block feeding requires baby to only nurse on one side for a ‘block’ of time. After the block of time is complete you switch to the other side for the next block of time. Hand expressing in small amounts for discomfort can be done.
- Full drainage technique which requires the breasts to be drained with the use of a pump then allowing baby to nurse immediately after. This is usually combined with block feeding.
- Compresses made of cabbage leaves applied to the breasts.
- Herbs like sage that inhibit milk production.