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Can I be a little honest here?
I used to envy those moms having breast milk oversupply.
Like when my mom told me that my sis was dripping with milk while trying to latch her second daughter.
Or when my friend told me that on her golden days, she would be able to pump 400 ml of breast milk in one sitting and she just needs to pump once a day at work.
It seems that breastfeeding is so much easier for them.
While I am here struggling to collect every little drop of milk for my baby.
Squeezing pumping time here and there , combining all little milk I got throughout the day.
Ohh.., How I wish I could be one of
Until recently, when my friend just gave birth to her daughter and I visited her.
We chatted about how's her breastfeeding experience now and she mentioned that she's having an oversupply problem.
Ahem, a 'p r o b l e m'?
I would feel lucky to have a breast milk oversupply.
That's what I initially thought.
Until she went on and on telling me what she faced and how she truly worried about her baby, and I started realizing that indeed:
"Breast milk oversupply can be a real problem."
Wanna know more about it?
Here it is..
Table of Contents
- 1 The ugly truth about breast milk oversupply -
- 2 10 Things You Need to Know
- 3 1. Overactive let down
- 4 2. The baby gets choked and gags while nursing
- 5 3. Your baby can be gassy or shows colicky symptom.
- 6 4. Foremilk-Hindmilk Imbalance
- 7 5. Weight gain issue
- 8 What about the mother?
- 9 6. Easily engorged breast
- 10 7. Your breast leaks easily
- 11 8. Sore nipples
- 12 9. Recurrent plugged ducts
- 13 10. Mastitis
The ugly truth about breast milk oversupply -
10 Things You Need to Know
Breast milk oversupply, or also called 'Hyperlactation' is a condition whereby a mother produces more than enough milk that what her baby needs.
Yeah, it seems too good to be true.
But it comes with several implications as described below.
1. Overactive let down
When the mom lets down, there is so much milk spraying out from the breast.
Often, when a baby nurses from one side, the other one also leaks terribly.
The let-down can be so strong such that some moms may experience a short painful feeling while letting down.
Younger babies (especially newborn) have difficulty managing that flood of milk coming into their mouth.
And because of that, the next implication occurs.
2. The baby gets choked and gags while nursing
This usually occurs in newborns.
They could not handle the fast flow of milk so they tend to choke and gag while the mom lets down.
As a result, the baby cries and is fussier to nurse.
He also gets on and off from the breast pretty often.
What to do:
- When you lets down, let the milk sprays out to a towel / burp rag. Once the flow slows down, put your baby back to the breast.
- Pump shortly before feeding.Note that the purpose of pumping here is not to increase your milk production, but just enough to reach the first let down and let the milk flow slows down.
- Use a laid-back breastfeeding position to nurse your baby.
In this position, you should lean back far enough so that your baby can rest comfortably on your body.
By adopting a laid-back position, the milk flows against gravity and thus flows slower (as compared to other conventional nursing positions).
3. Your baby can be gassy or shows colicky symptom.
Remember that your baby chokes and gags while nursing?
As a result, your baby tends to swallow too much air.
The air got trapped in the tummy and may cause tummy pain.
What to do:
- Burp your baby often to help him release the air in the tummy
- Carry your baby in a colic hold, this type of hold put a gentle pressure towards your baby's tummy to help him releasing the trapped air.
- Do the I love U massage on his tummy or make a cycling movement with his feet.
4. Foremilk-Hindmilk Imbalance
Do you know that breast milk has two types of milk with different composition?
They are called foremilk and hindmilk.
Foremilk is the milk that's received at the beginning of the feed. Foremilk is more watery (and thus quenching thirst), high in lactose, low in fat.
On the other hand, hindmilk comes out much later than foremilk. It has
So, what about the imbalance thing?
An oversupply mom tends to have more foremilk compared to other moms with normal supply.
Therefore, her baby tends to feel full easily (due to excessive foremilk), but that sense of fullness does not last long.
Thus, the baby will want to nurse again within a short period of time.
If the mother offers the alternate breast at the next feeding session, the cycle of getting too much foremilk such that he's feeling full while actually not will continue on and on.
The baby will nurse very often yet not getting enough hindmilk which is essential for gaining enough weight.
What to do:
- Do a block feeding by offering only one breast for several nursing sessions until that side of breast feels empty.
Then, use the alternate breast for the next feeding block.This way, your baby will get a balanced amount of foremilk and hindmilk, which is critical for your baby development.
- If pure block feeding does not work, you may try full drainage block feeding method.
The only difference between this and the earlier is you pump first until your breast feel empty before you start feeding your baby using the block feeding method.
See this mom story who was able to finally control her supply using full drainage block feeding method.
5. Weight gain issue
Remember I said at the previous point that the baby can have slower weight gain due to excessive foremilk?
The opposite thing can happen too. Some babies of oversupply moms gain too much weight, but I don't think it is an issue as long as the baby is healthy.
The earlier is more of a concern.
If you suspect your baby is gaining weight slower than expected, here's a few things you could do:
- Weigh your baby regularly to see his weight gain pattern.
Here's the average weight gain for breastfed babies in their first year:
- 0-3 months: 5-7 oz per week
- 4-6 months: 4-5 oz per week
- 7-12 months: 2-4 oz per week
- If your baby weight gain is extremely lower than those average number, consult a lactation consultant to get help immediately. She should be able to advise you the recommended breastfeeding management, or suggest if you need to take any supplement to better control your milk supply.
::Alright, you just finished reading all the oversupply implication for the baby.
What about the mother?
Of course, moms also get enough share of implications.
Here they are:
6. Easily engorged breast
Remember that an oversupply mom has speedy milk production and thus her breast will fill up faster.
That's actually fine if her baby nurses regularly and empties the breast well.
But if not, the engorged breast equals to feeling pain and uncomfortable.
Who likes to walk around with a rock-hard like breast? Ha, definitely not me.
What to do:
- Ensure that the baby nurses regularly. If not, pump a little bit just to relieve the engorgement.
- If your breast is already engorged, apply a cold compress 20 minutes before feeding to relieve swelling.
- Apply moist heat to your breast before feeding to help with milk flow (some suggests taking hot shower)
- Massage your breast during feeding
7. Your breast leaks easily
I mentioned this before.
To prevent embarrassment (especially when you are out and about), always wear a breast pad and change them regularly.
The washable ones such as this from Bamboobies would be great because it won't cost you too much in the long run - compared to the disposable one).
Alternatively, if you are returning to work and want to build a freezer stash, consider using Milky
8. Sore nipples
This is a side effect of
Because the milk flows so fast, your baby tries to slow it down by clamping your nipple (ouch) or adopt a shallow latch.
What to do:
- To help the nipple heals, apply a tiny bit of breast milk after every feeding. Breast milk has an antiseptic property that helps to heal sore nipple pretty fast.
- Alternatively, use a nipple butter such as the one from Earth Mama Angel Baby.
9. Recurrent plugged ducts
An oversupply mom is at risk on eve loping recurrent plugged ducts.
What is plugged ducts?
When you have plugged ducts, part of your breast may feel hard or lumpy due to obstruction of milk flow.
This obstruction can occur near the nipple (and may cause bleb - nipple blister), or the obstruction can be further back at the breast tissue.
Your breast may be swollen, feel warm and painful to touch.
What to do:
Recurrent plugged ducts usually occur because the breast is not drained effectively.
This can be due to shallow latch or cutting short / skipping some nursing sessions.
Here are some tips to treat plugged ducts:
- Always make sure that your baby has a proper latch to ensure adequate milk removal. If you feel the baby has not removed the milk properly, pump to drain breast thoroughly.
- Nurse with the affected breast can be painful, but this is the fastest way to relieve plugged ducts. Apply breast massage during feeding to encourage milk flow. Additionally, use a warm compress before feeding.
When the plugged ducts are not treated immediately, mastitis can happen.
Basically, mastitis has exactly the same local symptoms just like plugged ducts, but with additional fever or flu-like symptoms.
For short-term mastitis (less than 24 hours), the suggested treatment is similar to plugged ducts.
However, if it persists more than 24 hours, you should get professional help immediately.
This is because the mastitis can become infectious and need antibiotic treatment.
In the worst case scenario where it is left untreated, mastitis can progress to breast abscess and requires a surgical procedure.
Wow... it turns out, being an oversupply mom is NOT a blessing.
Without a proper breastfeeding management, there are a lot of bad things that may happen to mom and baby.
What's the take home point here?
I don't know about you, but for me, learning all of this makes me feel even more grateful with the milk supply that I have, no matter how little it is.
So, whether you are an oversupply mom or low milk supply mom, let's be grateful with our milk supply.
I believe, no matter in which state we are in, we all have the same goal, providing the best for our babies.
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