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Are you tired of countless stained t-shirts, embarassing situations and over all fussy babies?
Who said mini milk fountains?
You’ve come to the right place.
-Because it can be a frustrating and tiring period for a new mummy, just as dealing with a low supply – only it is a little easier to adjust in this case.
So let’s get down to it and cover some of the questions many of you might have:
Why does oversupply happen?
Unfortunately, there is no concrete reason as to why it happens. It can depend on many different factors that we will touch upon now.
Though you can reduce the amount of milk you produce slightly, it’s worth thinking about pumping a little to relieve your breasts and store your milk for a later date. But we’ll touch on that later.
Let’s get into the main reasons for oversupply:
- A baby who isn’t nursing well or emptying mummy’s breasts fully
- Switching sides too often before one breast has the chance to be emptied
- Increased nursing during growth spurts, teething etc
- Frequent pumping
- Changes in baby’s sleeping and nursing patterns
Now I’ll explain each one of these reasons a little more in-depth and what you can do.
Poor latch- on or non-effective nursing
I can’t stress enought the importance of getting the right latch-on for you and your baby during the first period of breastfeeding.
If you can, get your midwife to install you two and check that your baby’s latch is good – even if you’re a second time mom, it’s good to check because every baby is different! Have the number of your nearest lactation consultant on the fridge too.
To ensure a good latch, you need to observe your baby’s mouth as she feeds. The best way to start is to hold your nipple slightly above baby’s mouth and as soon as baby smells the milk and opens his mouth wide, gently place your nipple inside.
The reason for this is that it will ensure that your nipple reaches the soft pallete in the roof of his mouth and not the hard gums at the entrance.
You shouldn’t feel pain once nursing is established – though you may feel pressure from the sucking or a little uncomfort from the let-down itself. Watch that baby’s cheeks look full when he is suckling too.
A baby that is feeding well will move his jaw as he does and you may notice even his ears move a little with the motion.
Your nipple and aerola should also be entirely in his mouth as long as you have a medium nipple size. If you have a large aerola, you can check out this detailed post with specific positions for more guidance.
Switching sides too often
Now there seems to be conflicting information about how often baby should change breasts in the beginning.
Let’s just say that in the beginning, to build your supply quickly – it’s a good idea to switch it up often as this will send a signal to your body to release more hormones and hence produce more milk.
Once your milk has come in though and you no longer have colostrum, you want to make sure that your baby is staying attached to your breast until it feels ’empty’. I put this in quotations as your breasts are never really empty, but the brain hasn’t received the signal to make another let-down happen.
One thing you could try is to change breast each feeding instead of during – that way you’re ensuring that your breast is being fully empty as well as giving baby all the good fatty ‘dessert’ milk at the end.
When baby gets the hindmilk (the technical name for high-fat milk), she will also go for a longer period of time before her next feed, which in turn will also lower your supply.
If you’re having trouble with engorged breasts, here’s what I’ve tried and tested and you can too:
- Put cabbage leaves in the fridge and place them on your breast to provide you with some relief and help your milk come out
- Hold a cup of warm to hot water against your nipple or have a hot shower – the heat will help the milk to start flowing
- You can also get special heat packs that I have which I’ll picture below:
Breastfeeding is not just food for your baby, it’s also comfort, warmth and security. There’s no place your baby would rather be than in your arms, after coming out of that safe haven that was your belly for nine months.
It’s really no wonder then that she will look for you when she is upset, teething or needs some extra cuddles.
Babies also drink more milk to increase mom’s supply when they are growing so that she can catch up. Problem is that when you already have a decent supply, this can make you feel as if your breasts may explode! Trust me, I’ve been there.
For teething problems:
Some babies when teething may not want to eat at all as it causes a sore sensation in their mouth when they suckle. Some babies may want to nurse non-stop – each can leave your breasts feeling engorged.
If your baby is under 6 months and you haven’t started solids yet, you can try giving your baby something to naw on to get some relief.
I personally use the one and only Sophie the Giraffe as my little 7 month old girl just loves to put anything in her mouth right now (bless her!) and finds it really fun to play with too.
You can find all sorts of teethers there too – I have friends who have tried little rubber spoons that you can put some mashed fruit inside and stick in the freezer. The cooling effect is a great relief.
Something else you can try is feeding your baby as soon as she wakes up when she’ll be the most hungry and still a little drowsy. It’s much more likely that your breasts will be drained then.
The distraction phase
If your baby has reached the 5 month mark, or even before, you may be dealing with a tough phase of breastfeeding – distraction.
Now your baby is spending so much time awake, everything is so new and appealing to her. You’ll notice how much she’ll reach for objects, stare at people who talk to you, turn her head away from the breast to look at something.
Again, the key point here is to try and feed your baby right after he’s woken up, don’t let your baby get too excited as he might find it hard to settle down and feed.
As for those days where you could feed anywhere you pleased? They’ll come back, but for now go with your baby and go to a quiet and calm place on your own if you know that it’s the only chance you’ll get a good feed in.
It’s a pain to deal with but just think of it as your baby wanting exclusive time with you – breastfeeding it also a cuddle to young ones, a time to be together. This too shall pass!
The growth spurt
I’m sorry to say that there’s not a lot of advice I can give you about this one but just to stick with it!
I think the most important thing about a growth spurt is mom’s sanity – it can be very draining having your child attached to you all day long, even if you love them to pieces.
So my greatest advice would be to get some YOU time in. Is there any way you can do that? Is daddy around in the evenings to take over? Can a friend look after baby for half an hour while you take a breather?
You might want to think about getting some professional help if you have no immediate family or support circle near you.
The Leche League is a great place to consult with other mamas if you can’t meet people in person – there are loads of forums there you can look through and talk to other women who are going through the same!
For some moms who may work outside the home, or exclusively pump, reducing the amount of times they pump is just not a considerable option.
If you are just pumping enough to be able to be apart from your baby for short amounts of time while you get a mummy break, you can follow these tips.
If you’re iminant on exclusively breastfeeding your baby or not a pumping fan, don’t worry! It doesn’t stop there!
The possibilities are endless when it comes to the many beneficial properties in breastmilk – it’s especially great for your baby’s skin. You might want to check out this Breastmilk baby balm recipe from Wellness Mama or check out this botty balm from mumsgrapevine here.
What does oversupply feel like?
When it happened to me – I knew. My baby would not simply relax during a feeding, was always seemingly uncomfortable and so was the sensation in my breasts.
Suddenly I would have these two rock hard ‘boulders’ as I would call them, and boy did it hurt.
Though it was obvious for me – it’s not always obvious for all mums and can leave many scratching their head.
Now we know that during pregnancy, the body produces hormones that cause us to produce colostrum and some of us may actually experience leaky breasts at this point. Don’t worry if you don’t though, that’s perfectly normal too.
Basically, everybody will react differently to said hormones. I’m saying some may respond quickly and hence produce oversupply.
Once breastfeeding is well established, the hormones should level out and it should all kinda take care of itself.
What does it mean for my baby?
While in the long run, once a regular supply and relatively normal let-down has been established, there shouldn’t be too many side effects for baby.
Right now though, you most certainly may be dealing with some or all of the following:
- Fussy baby that won’t settle
- Repeated pulling off the breast
- Choking or gases and hiccuping
- Difficulty settling
- Constant feeding/seemingly unsatisfied baby
Does any of that sound familiar? Read on….
The choking and gagging of your baby are due to an overly forceful let-down, which is related to over supply.
‘What’s a let-down?’ I hear a newbie shout out at the back of our virtual classroom.
A let-down is…
So when mum’s breast seem like they could overflow, they really do….when a breast gets too filled up with milk, they can become harder at the tact and this means that when baby finally does clamp down onto the nipple, well….it can come out a bit like a piston.
The incessant hiccuping fest in it’s turn, is due to the amount of foremilk your baby could be getting. Ladies with oversupply often have a disproportionate ratio of fore to hindmilk.
In simple terms, the foremilk is the more transparent thirst quencher milk, and the hindmilk is what we can call ‘pudding’ if you will, this is the more fatty milk that will fill bubs up.
As long as mum has more milk than needed, she will naturally have more foremilk than hindmilk.
What too much foremilk does is cause a baby more prone to spit up, cause she just can’t take any more in! That might also explain why she’s so hungry.
And what about me?
Yeah, it’s not any easier on the mum either.
Having too much milk can cause some minor issues for her (as long as she reads this article carefully….!) A young mum can encounter (and I have) these pesty problems:
- Overly engorged breasts that may form lumps more known as ‘clogged ducts’
- Fever over the first few days the milk comes in
- If not treated properly, can lead to mastitis
- From a comfort perspective – can have leaking throughout the day
- Her let downs may hurt her while breastfeeding
WOW. How do we deal with all that? Keep scrollin’ desperate mummy, we got this…
If you’re struggling with oversupply, here are some tips that may come in handy to you:
- Try and fully empty each breast at a time – this might mean offering baby the same breast at several feedings
- The above can be uncomfortable if in the other, milk starts to build up too much – you can hand express or lightly pump to relieve pressure
- When you feel your let-down has come, try and take baby away from the breast gently (he may do this naturally) and apply pressure with a cloth/towel
- Double up on the breast pads to avoid soggy t-shirts and disaster milk spraying situations while you’re out and about
- Try burping baby during a feed – if he naturally takes a break, use it to lightly tap his back while holding him over your shoulder
For more tips on how to reduce your milk supply and what could be causing it, read this article by SmartAdvice on Everything You Need to Know About Hyperlactation.
While oversupply can certainly be a nuisance, why not try and make the most of it and fill up some milk sachets in the freezer?
Then you’ve got a brilliant excuse to pump and dump. Ahem.
I use these breast pads to prevent leaking when I’m out and about and I’ve also tried these milk catchers which personally I didn’t use too much (as I don’t like wearing a bra) but many women love which are great for when that other pesty breast starts leaking at the same time you’re feeding.
Do any of you recommend any other tips and tricks?
Resources from La Leche League and Breastfeeding USA