Breastfeeding block feeding can help moms who struggle with a problem that is not often talked about but more common than you might think. You don’t have to look hard to find guidance and support if your breasts fail to produce an adequate supply of breast milk for your baby, but what happens if your breasts do the opposite? Many women produce more milk than their babies can comfortably consume, and this is sometimes just as uncomfortable and troubling as the underproduction of milk.
Oversupply, also known as hyperlactation, isn’t talked about as much, but it’s important for every breastfeeding woman to be aware of the potential complications and the best solutions. This guide will give you the information that you need to get your milk supply under control if oversupply becomes an issue for you and your baby.
Why Is Oversupply a Big Deal?
It may seem like more milk is always better, but there are some hyperlactation problems that can make you and your baby uncomfortable due to oversupply. If your breasts release a fast flow of milk, your baby may choke or release the nipple quickly. This makes the breastfeeding process uncomfortable and may lead to your baby not consuming an adequate supply of milk despite the abundance of milk available.
If you’re changing breasts on a timed schedule, then your baby may consume mostly foremilk. This is the lighter, low-fat milk that comes out of the breast before the creamier milk is released. Your baby may experience frequent gas and bloating, and they may produce runny, green stools. He or she may also cry a lot because babies need the creamier milk to feel satisfied.
For a mother, oversupply makes breastfeeding more complicated and heartbreaking. You may not know why your baby is crying so much or why he or she suffers from so many stomach problems. Sleepless nights with a crying baby make parenting more difficult, especially if you have to get up for work in the morning. Your nipples may also become more tender and sore due to your baby’s difficulty staying latched.
Signs of Hyperlactation
The most common symptoms of hyperlactation could also be caused by other problems or may not seem troubling on their own. That is what makes this condition so difficult to diagnose with certainty. For the mother, the most obvious signs are engorged breasts that fill up with milk quickly. This can become so uncomfortable that you have to express some milk between feedings just to soften the breasts for relief.
You can watch for signs of digestive distress or those green, runny stools in your baby’s diapers. You may also notice that your baby lets go of the nipple shortly after your milk lets down or that they choke a lot in the beginning of each feeding. Milk may also spray out of your breasts when your baby releases prematurely. These are signs that the milk is flowing too fast for your baby’s comfort.
Introduction to Breastfeeding Block Feeding – The Most Effective Solution
Research has shown that block feeding is the most effective way to retrain the breasts to slow down. This is a structured breastfeeding schedule that requires you to adopt the following daily routine:
- Empty your breasts before your first breastfeeding session. Do this with a double breast pump so that you empty the breasts as quickly as possible. You may save the milk for later use if you’re worried that you will run out of milk at some point.
- Immediately offer both emptied breasts to your baby. A little milk will always remain in the breasts because your body is constantly producing more, and this will be the thicker milk with the fat that allows your baby to feel satisfied. Allow the baby to feed as long as he or she wants on each side. Most babies will take a nap after doing this.
- Break the rest of your day into even time blocks, and start feeding only on one breast during each of those blocks. It’s generally recommended that you start with three-hour blocks, but you may find that your baby wants to feed a little more often. One breast is assigned to each block of time, and only the “on-duty” breast is offered during each time block.
- Some women need to express their milk with a pump one more time during the day because the off-duty breast becomes uncomfortably engorged. This should slow down as your breasts adapt to the block feeding cycle. Make sure that you aren’t extracting too much milk because that will only cause your breasts to increase supply.
You can gradually increase the length of your feeding blocks as your breasts adjust to your baby’s demand for milk and as your baby goes longer periods of time without feeding. As each breast is used for feeding less frequently, the supply of milk should start to slow down.
What it Takes to Make Breastfeeding Block Feeding Work
The simplest approach to breastfeeding is complete freedom. You let your baby freed whenever he or she feels the urge, and your breasts naturally respond by producing an adequate supply of milk to keep up with your baby’s natural pace. When oversupply becomes a problem and you adopt a more structured feeding schedule like block feeding, you can expect breastfeeding to consume more of your time.
The time-consuming element is tracking the hours of the day, remembering which breast is on duty during each time block, and then adjusting your time blocks with time. This is more manageable if you stick to the same time blocks each day. Think about your baby’s sleep habits when setting the blocks, and write the block times down so that you don’t have to remember them. This will eliminate the hassle of setting new blocks each day and trying to remember where you are throughout the day.
Time blocking is easier to master if you stay at home with your baby or are on maternity leave, but you can succeed while working. You may just need to pump during some of the feeding blocks, making sure to pump on the appropriate side each time.
If you fully commit to time blocking, you may not need to follow this schedule for long. Your milk supply may quickly adjust to the supply that your baby demands, allowing you to adopt a feeding routine with more freedom. That is the ultimate goal, but have patience with your breasts and with your baby.
- Breastfeeding Oversupply: Can Moms Have Too Much Milk?
- Overactive Letdown when Breastfeeding Your Baby
- Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions