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Oversupply

Some women have an oversupply of breast milk, which may be your crisis! Maybe you are making more milk than your baby needs.

While having too much milk may seem like a good problem to have, the rush of milk from an overfull, engorged breast can make feedings stressful and uncomfortable for both the mother and baby.

Babies may be very fussy in between feedings, when there is too much milk. Babies, whose mothers have excessive milk, gain weight a lot faster than normal and have a few extra dirty diapers each day.

An oversupply of breast milk will result in a baby not getting enough of the essential hind milk, which contains most of the fat.

Read more here about foremilk and hind milk imbalance

Mother can hand express milk to reduce engorgement before feedings.

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How to Judge if you have an Oversupply of Milk

By the six week mark after your baby's birth, you will know whether your body has adapted to your baby's needs and thus, if you are truly struggling with an oversupply issue. If everything is okay except for the fact that you are leaking, then you don't need to worry too much. Leaking is your body's way of preventing plugged ducts. Breast shells can increase the flow of milk, so getting rid of them would be a good start. 

  • The baby is often very irritable and/or restless.
  • The baby is fussy during feeds. Your baby may bob on and off of the breast and twist their body. 
  • The baby chokes and makes clicking noises while feeding.
  • The baby has frothy, green, mucousy, explosive stools
  • Your baby is excessively gassy
  • You may have an accompanying fast flow of milk, and may end up spraying your baby's face during feedings. 
  • Your baby may spit up more frequently than most. You may need to burp him/her more regularly. 
  • You may discover a streak of blood in your baby's stools
  • Your baby may only breastfeed when hungry and will not nurse for comfort or to fall asleep. 

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Oversupply Causes

  • Switching your baby to the other breast, before he/she has finished the first breast. Some mother's breasts are very sensitive to stimulation, and switching back and forth without ever draining a breast well, can result in production of too much milk in both breasts.
  • Consumption of too many lactogenic foods
  • Hormone related issues.
  • What causes an oversupply and why does it affect your baby in the way it does? Read more about foremilk/hindmilk imbalance here
  • Oversupply tends to be more of a problem with each birth. 


How to Slow Down Milk Production

  • Nurse on just one side with each nursing session. Alternate with each feeding. If you need to relive some pressure you can pump or hand express just a little. If your baby wants to comfort feed before the next feeding, allow him/her to stay on that same breast. You can also try "block feeding", which is when you nurse only from one side for up to six hours. Make sure that you don't keep that side so full that it causes mastitis or pain. The idea is to reduce the supply by removing some demand. You may need to repeat this a few times for results. 
  • Try to avoid extra breast stimulation like extra pumping, running warm water on your breasts for a long time or using breast shells.
  • Apply cool compresses to the breast.
  • Cabbage leaf compresses and herbs also work.
  • Sage tea has helped some mothers in reducing milk production.
  • Peppermint and thyme tea help to reduce milk production too.
  • Other helpful herbs for oversupply

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How to Reduce Milk Ejection Force

  • Breastfeed just as your baby is waking from naps. He/she should suck more gently, when sleepy.
  • Try lying down while feeding; your baby can let excess milk dribble down from his/her mouth, instead of having to swallow it all. The laid-back breastfeeding position can turn your fire hose into a fountain ;-) 
  • Feed your baby before he/she gets too hungry; this will keep your baby from sucking too hard, which not only hurts when the nipples are already sore, but can cause more nipple damage. How to recognize a baby's hunger cues
  • Spray the extra milk into a towel or cloth before feeding your baby.

Read more about overactive and under active let down


Other Oversupply Problems

Leaking breasts

You do not need to have overfull breasts for them to leak, but it is a common problem for mothers with an overabundance of milk. Put gentle pressure on the nipples by pressing your arms tightly against your chest for a few minutes. (More about leaking breasts during breast feeding here)

Struggling to get your baby to nurse to sleep? 

This is a common problem for mothers with oversupply issues. Just as your baby starts to doze off, your breast decides to have a "let down" (increased flow of milk). This may cause your baby to pull off and cry instead of sleeping. If this happens you can use the tips described above and/or on the let down page, or you can switch your baby back to the less full breast. 

The colic baby

Most colic issues are caused by oversupply and acid reflux. Both of these issues are amplified when a baby is fed large meals that are widely spaced during the day. Frequent, small meals will help to reduce colic symptoms. Babies who are carried in upright positions also experience less colic symptoms. Read more about wearing your baby and Kangaroo Mother Care. 

Bloody streaks in the stool

If you discover that your baby has a rash or blood in the stool, it may be an indication of an irritated intestine. Once you get the oversupply issue sorted, this should subside too. But in addition to this you can consider an elimination diet to remove other potential irritants. Consider removing one of the following at a time, only moving to the next one if the problem does not subside:

  • Dairy and soy.
  • Artificial colouring and preservatives.
  • Any food item that you might have binged on during pregnancy. 

Most doctors say that you can ignore small amounts of blood. Formula fed babies often have blood in their stools. Sometimes the blood is not always visible. 


The Gassy Breastfed Baby



Donate your extra breast milk


Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with this page

Cold Therapy relieves engorgement, swelling and pain...




Reference

  • The womanly art of breastfeeding, 8th edition.
  • My personal experience and breastfeeding Councillor studies via Childbirth International. Read my breastfeeding journey here

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Oversupply ..very frustrating 
My breasts are full most of the time and breastfeeding my baby is very frustrating since he is hungry but he is frequently choke at the breasts, resulting …

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