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Ask an Expert: Oversupply

by Anne Smith, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“I have an over supply problem. Any suggestions as to how to correct this?”

Although concern about not having enough breast milk is the number one reason that mothers wean their babies early, having too much milk can also be a problem. When you consider the fact that a small percentage of women don’t have the capacity to produce enough milk for their babies no matter what they do, then having too much milk is a relatively good breastfeeding problem to have, and is usually fairly easy to resolve.

Babies whose moms have too much milk may exhibit symptoms such as fussing, pulling off the breast, colicky crying, gassiness, spitting up, and hiccuping. They may want tonurse frequently, and they may gain weight more rapidly than the average baby (who usually gains 4-8 ounces each week during the first 3 or 4 months), or they may gain weightmore slowly than the average baby.

Their stools may be green and watery, and their bottoms may be red and sore. The mother’s letdown reflex may be so forceful that the baby chokes, gags and sputters as he struggles with the jet of milk that sprays too quickly into his mouth.

Mothers who produce too much milk may suffer from full, engorged breasts, plugged ducts, and mastitis. Sometimes they feel a few seconds of intense pain as the letdown (or milk ejection) reflex occurs, because it is so forceful.

The cause of the problem is usually a combination of an overactive letdown reflex along with a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.

The article Oversupply: Too Much Breast Milk has details about tips and techniques or handling an oversupply off milk including burping often, offering one breast at a feeding, drinking sage tea, altering positions so that the baby isn’t leaning back with milk gushing down his throat, catching the initial forceful spray with a towel, and donating to a milk bank,

Usually, the problem of too much milk will resolve as your baby matures and is able to handle the flow better, and also as your body settles down to make the milk your baby needs and not a lot of extra milk. Like all other breastfeeding problems, this too shall pass.

Anne Smith, IBCLCAnne has been helping moms reach their breastfeeding goals for over 35 years, as a La Leche League and an IBCLC in private practice since 1990. Breastfeeding six children gives her a unique combination of first hand experience as well as professional expertise. In 1999, she started her website,www.breastfeedingbasics.com, with lots of information on breastfeeding and parenting, and a wonderful group of bloggers, including Abby from The Badass Breastfeeder, Rachelle from Unlatched, and Marie from Anarchy in the Sandbox.

Join the more than six millions of moms who come to Breastfeeding Basics each year for information and support, and visit Anne on Facebook.