Are you an over-producer? What to do when you’ve got too much of a good thing
Did you know that 40% of new mothers have problems producing enough milk for their newborns?
Three days after childbirth, 92% of new moms say they have problems breastfeeding. These problems include:
- Not producing enough milk
- Baby not latching properly
- Nipple confusion
- Pain while breastfeeding
But there is one breastfeeding problem that is rarely discussed: having an oversupply of breastmilk.
To a mother who’s struggling to produce breastmilk, oversupply sounds like an awesome problem to have.
Even though you might not be worried about your baby starving, breastmilk oversupply can be every bit annoying as undersupply.
When you’re producing too much milk, your breasts might leak or spray milk when you try to breastfeed.
When your baby tries to latch on, they might sputter and choke, and then arch away to indicate they don’t want to breastfeed anymore.
But then your baby wants to nurse every hour around the clock, leaving you worried they don’t get enough milk in a breastfeeding session.
Then they have plenty of soiled and wet diapers, which means they’re definitely not starving.
An overabundant milk supply, also known as hyperlactation, can leave a new mom confused.
Read on to find out if you have hyperlactation and what to do about it:
Do You Really Have an Oversupply?
Just because your breasts are constantly leaking doesn’t mean you have too much breast milk.
In the first four to six weeks after delivering your baby, you are likely to have high levels of the hormone prolactin.
This hormone, which prompts your body to produce breastmilk, will increase every time you breastfeed.
This is the body’s way of ensuring it produces enough breastmilk to meet the demand.
In simpler words, your body is learning how much milk to make.
Before your breastmilk supply is finally established, you are likely to experience some leaking.
In addition, your breasts might seem to fill up quickly and spray during letdown.
Bear in mind that your newborn is still learning to suckle, which can lead to some sputtering.
After the Initial Weeks
After the first few weeks, it is normal for surges in prolactin to gradually decrease.
This allows your body to have a more straightforward supply and demand process according to your baby’s needs.
In some cases, it might take a little longer than six weeks for your breastmilk supply to establish.
If this happens to you, give it a few more weeks.
Talk to a lactation consultant before concluding that you have hyperlactation.
They will watch you breastfeed your baby to diagnose if you have an oversupply.
You could have breast engorgement and a fast let-down without necessarily having oversupply.
Nevertheless, there are several signs which can help you self-diagnose breastmilk oversupply.
Signs of oversupply are usually experienced by both mother and baby.
Signs of Oversupply in Your Baby
You can tell you have an oversupply of breastmilk when your baby:
- Has trouble latching onto the breast during breastfeeding.
- Sputters and chokes when breastfeeding.
- Shows other signs of distress during breastfeeding (such as crying, pulling away, and refusing to nurse).
- Nurses for only a short time before pulling away.
- Brings up breastmilk after feeding.
- Pees a lot more than normal.
- Has frothy, greenish poop.
- Frequently has a nappy rash.
- Has fussy and colicky behavior
- Is putting on weight rapidly (more than 2lbs per month)
When your baby pulls away from the breast after a short time, they’re likely to have a lactose overload.
The foremilk, which is produced at the start of a breastfeeding session, is high in lactose.
This is unlike the hindmilk, which is produced as breastfeeding session progresses and is high in fat.
In cases of oversupply, the baby tends to take in too much of the lactose-high foremilk.
The lactose-high milk is harder for babies to digest, which leads to stomach upsets and frothy, greenish poop.
It is important to note that all the above symptoms also can be caused by reflux or allergies. Paradoxically, the symptoms might even be caused by a low milk supply.
Only if the baby is gaining weight too rapidly is oversupply likely to be the culprit.
Signs of Oversupply in You
Hyperlactation can also cause problems for you.
Here are some of the most common signs that your milk supply is overabundant:
- Breasts filling up too quickly after a feed
- Lumpy and tight breasts, even after feeding
- Excessive leaking from your breasts
- Explosive milk-ejection reflex
- Mastitis due to blocked milk ducts
Ways of Dealing With Oversupply
Hyperlactation can make breastfeeding, especially in public, an unpleasant experience.
This might lead to some mothers opting for early weaning if the problem isn’t diagnosed quickly and managed properly.
But instead of calling it quits, you can deal with oversupply in these ways:
Block Feeding Technique
With the block feeding technique, you feed your baby whenever they wants within a period of four hours, but only from one breast.
After four hours, you switch to feeding your baby from the other breast.
This technique is supposed to keep your other breast full, which signals your body to slow down on milk production.
Apply this breastfeeding technique for 24 hours, alternating breasts every four hours. If you don’t notice any significant improvement, try increasing the blocks to six hours.
Wearing a Maternity Bra With Pads
If you have hyperlactation, your breasts are likely to leak constantly.
When you go to bed, you might wake up to find your clothes and bedding drenched in milk.
Wearing a high-quality maternity bra and using breast pads can help you stay dry.
New Bloom’s everyday maternity bra has super supportive cups and lightly molded removable padding to catch leakages.
You should also consider buying a New Bloom maternity sleeping bra.
This bra is made of a cotton/elastin blended fabric to give you light support when you’re sleeping. Pair it with breast pads to keep yourself dry through the night.
Image from: Mothering Touch- breastfeeding mom
This is a technique where you nurse from a position of lying down or reclining on your back.
This position reduces the pressure of your let down and gives your baby more control.
The baby gets to set the breastfeeding pace. They can also lift their head up for breath if the flow is too fast.
Place a towel beneath your back to catch any leakage.
Pumping It Out
When your breasts are engorged, pumping or hand expressing can give you some relief.
However, only remove the smallest amount of milk as possible.
Remember, every time you nurse or express breastmilk, your body responds by producing more.
If you regularly express milk, the demand-supply system of your body assumes your baby needs more milk. You might end up exacerbating the problem.
Sharing the Extra Milk
Breastmilk is often referred to as liquid gold because of the multitude of health benefits it provides for babies.
Your excess milk can be a life-saver for a baby in need.
Think about premature babies in NICU whose mothers either died in childbirth or don’t have breastmilk yet.
There are also moms who are unable to breastfeed for many reasons but are desperate to give breastmilk to their newborn babies. These needy babies and moms will be happy to receive your extra milk.
To find out how to donate breastmilk, talk to your local hospital or a lactation consultant.
Making Milk Baths
Breastmilk contains lauric acid, a fatty acid which is also found in coconut oil.
Lauric acid has antibacterial properties, making it effective in combating acne.
If either you or your baby has acne or skin irritations, you can add breastmilk to your bath to help clear it up.
Buy the Best Maternity Bra
When you’re struggling with overproduction of breastmilk, your breasts might often feel sore.
You might even end up suffering from mastitis and breast abscesses due to clogged ducts.
With this in mind, having a proper high-quality maternity bra can give you some degree of comfort.
The bras have wire-free frames, super supportive cups, and are designed to allow for easy access.
They are made with breathable, double-layer seamless fabric to ensure maximum comfort for your breasts.
You have four essential designs to choose from:
- The everyday maternity bra for optimum support (ideal for everyday use)
- The maternity sleeping bra for light support at night or during nap time
- The bralette with a wrap style for light and medium support
- The beautiful maternity bra with emphasis on style
You will definitely find something that suits your needs and style preferences.
Remember, you need to have at least three maternity bras on hand. This ensures you always have a bra to wear when one is in the wash, and a third as a spare in case of leakages.
Feature Image: Freepik
Team New Bloom