Worried about oversupply? While the most common worry most new moms have is producing enough milk for their baby, some moms actually produce an too much milk, which can cause its own set of breastfeeding problems like gassiness, green poop and excessive spit up. With a few tips though, working through an overly abundant supply of milk can be overcome.
What is an Oversupply?
An oversupply of milk happens when there is more foremilk than normal. Foremilk is the sweet, watery milk your baby gets when he first latches on. Usually, there is about half an ounce or so of foremilk, followed by several ounces of thick high-calorie hind milk in each breast.
When you have an oversupply, you may have more foremilk which can causes feelings of fullness in your baby, but not enough calories or density to allow him or her to remain satisfied.
Symptoms of Too Much Breast Milk
An oversupply of milk may be your problem if:
• Your baby cries a lot, and is often very irritable and restless.
• He or she may sometimes gulp, choke, or cough when your breastfeed.
• Breast milk sprays if baby comes of (especially at the beginning of a feeding)
• You have sore nipples
• Your little one seems to bite (or clamp down) while eating.
• Nursing sessions often seem like a battle (with your little one only breastfeeding fitfully on and off)
• Feedings last only 5 or 10 minutes total.
• Baby is gassy between feedings
• Your little one tends to spit up a lot
• Your child has green, watery or foamy, and explosive bowel movements
• Your breasts seem full most of the time
• You may have frequent plugged ducts or breast infections.
Any of these could be indications that you have an oversupply of milk.
The foremilk contains more lactose, and too much lactose can cause gassiness in babies. Their stools may be loose and green, making their bottoms red and very sore.
A strong milk ejection reflex or letdown can also be causing some of these reactions in your baby. A strong letdown often goes hand in hand with an overly abundant milk supply. You may experience milk spraying everywhere, especially at the beginning of a feed when baby pulls off. You may also feel pain initially with milk letdown.
Women with too much milk also often experience mastitis, plugged ducts and engorged breasts.
Why Does Oversupply Happen?
Some mothers just seem to have bodies that respond to the needs of feeding a baby with a huge supply of milk. Others develop the demand for this supply through the process of breastfeeding mismanagement.
This can happen if the mother pumps before feeding her baby to relieve the letdown, or if the baby isn’t allowed to fully finish on one side before being switched to the other. This kind of breastfeeding triggers the mother’s body to increase the supply, when in reality the supply was fine. It was the method of feeding that triggered the problem. Contrary to what some women were taught, a baby does not have to eat from both breasts each time!
What You Can Do About it
Luckily, there are some pretty easy remedies for this situation. Most mothers who have an oversupply will produce enough milk for a full feeding in each breast.
1. So, the first thing to do is offer only one breast per feeding. This will decrease the overall supply gradually. If the side that was not offered gets uncomfortable, hand express just enough milk to relieve some of the pressure. This pressure lets your body know that it needs to decrease the amount of milk being made.
2. To calm down your milk letdown, you can hand express just a little bit of milk before latching baby on.
3. You can also put the baby in a vertical position, or you can lie on your back and have baby nurse while lying tummy to tummy on top of you. These methods use gravity to slow down the letdown reflex. (Your little one is less likely to gag and choke this way.)
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