When Abundance is a Curse: Breast Milk Oversupply

breastfeeding-mary

Help! My baby is 10 weeks old and I have oversupply. Baby is super refluxy, fussy and gassy. She wants to nurse frequently at night but wakes up coughing and reflux is worse. Any suggestions?

Poor mama! Oversupply and Overactive Letdown really is a vicious cycle:

  1. Baby gets latched on breast.
  2. Breast milk lets down like a geyser. If you unlatch baby you will sometimes see breast milk shooting across the room.
  3. Baby tries as best as she can to keep up, gulping milk with every single suck, sometimes sounding as if she is choking on milk, pulling herself off the breast for seemingly no reason, and fussing at the breast.
  4. Since baby is swallowing all watery fore-milk and air as she is gulping, her tummy feels full so she unlatches. Since she didn’t get rich fatty hindmilk, her tummy is really not full, and she wants to nurse again in twenty minutes, seemingly for no reason!
  5. The more time she spends at the breast, the more the breast produces, the faster the milk lets down, and the more gassy baby gets!
  6. Baby wants to comfort-nurse because she feels miserable, but it only makes things worse 😦

What on Earth is Foremilk and Hindmilk? Let’s Ask Kelly Mom.

The reason I am taking the time to talk about this issue is because it is so common. Looking back on breastfeeding my baby, I had no idea this was our problem until two good girlfriends had their babies and actually figured it out. 

Read about Amanda’s experience with Oversupply and Sad, Fussy Baby

Read about our experience with Engorgement

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IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are breastfeeding your baby (even if everything is going well), I strongly advise you to attend regular La Leche League Meetings in your area. There is nothing like face-to-face support by other moms who have breastfed babies. Often you will not know what issue you are having until an experienced breastfeeding mama gets up close-and-personal with your boobs and your baby during a feed.

Not everyone can afford a lactation consultant (though most of us can, and we don’t know it) but La Leche League Meetings are free and available for everyone.

Find a Local La Leche League Meeting (or a LLL Leader you can call from your home for free!)

Ok, Now That I Know What’s Wrong, What Do I Do?

Breastfeeding: the Fantasy

Breastfeeding: the Fantasy

Breastfeeding: the Reality

Breastfeeding: the Reality

Once Milk Lets Down, Unlatch Baby Until the Geyser Slows Down

Baby latches on. Mama feels milk-letdown. Baby starts gulping. STOP.

At this point, unlatch baby from the breast and catch the extra milk. You can use a washcloth if you don’t care about saving, or you can buy Milkies or jimmy-rig some poor man’s equivalent (for example, the O-cal-lette Cup, like Birth Without Fear recommends).

Rescuing the baby from milk-drowning will keep her from gulping, which keeps those extra air bubbles out of her belly. She should then suck longer, hopefully to get some of the fatty hindmilk which will keep her full longer.

Block-feed: How-to

Note: block-feeding is only recommended when your baby is gaining weight. If you have any concerns, please consult a board-certified lactation consultant or your baby’s pediatrician.

With Block-feeding, you are not restricting feeds at all. But looking at the clock, whenever baby wants to nurse, just put baby back to the same breast. Do this for 2-3 hour increments to start.

What this looks like:

4pm: baby to left breast. 4:30pm: baby unlatches. 4:45pm: baby rooting, baby to left breast. 4:55pm: baby unlatches. 5:20pm: baby rooting, baby to left breast, etc. … 6:30pm: when baby roots, switch to right breast)

Must-Read:

KELLY MOM: Managing Overactive Letdown and Oversupply

BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR: Managing Oversupply with the MDR Method

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Relieve Baby’s Gas

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR SAD BABY GAS:

ONLINE BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT

The Leaky Boob

Kelly Mom

Birth Without Fear

La Leche League

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