Moms often worry that their supply of breast milk is too low, but what happens when a mom has too much milk? By registered midwife Pippa Hime
We often hear of moms battling with a low breast milk supply, but what happens when a mom has too much milk? As far as breast feeding problems go, this is often a relatively easy problem to solve.
Why do some moms have an oversupply of breast milk?
Some mothers have an overactive or forceful let-down. There is a surplus of the hormones that produce milk, resulting in more milk production and causing a heavier let-down.
How would I recognise this?
- Your breasts become full easily.
- They may often feel hard and engorged. This can range from a mild discomfort to an ache.
- Your breasts may leak often and spray out at times.
- You may be prone to blocked ducts, which can lead to mastitis.
- Your baby is fussy at the breast. He may make gulping, choking noises as the milk starts to flow. Milk may pour out of the corners of his mouth.
- Your baby may come on and off the breast and pull back as an attempt to slow down the flow. When he comes off the breast his face may be covered in milk.
- He may gain excessive amounts of weight.
- His poo may be green in colour and he may have more frequent stools.
What can I do about it?
- Try the “laid-back” approach when feeding. Lie all the way back with your baby lying across your body, facing the breast tummy to mummy. This position uses gravity to slow down the flow.
- You can try taking your baby off your breasts for a few seconds as the let-down commences. This tends to slow down after the initial burst. You can use a towel or burp cloth to catch the milk, and once the heavy spray slows down you can put him back to your breast. If your baby puts up a fuss doing this, you can use a handpump initially until the flow slows down, and then put your baby to your breast.
- It’s important to remember that this oversupply can level out after the first six to 12 weeks.
- Some moms find it helpful to block feed. This involves fully feeding your baby off only one breast. The milk from the breast that is “off duty” should be manually expressed to relieve the discomfort, but not for too long to stimulate it.
- Try to avoid any extra stimulation with in-between feeds with pumping.
If you continue to have an excess of “liquid gold”, you may want to consider becoming a breast milk donor. Contact the South African Breast Milk Reserve for further information.
Pippa is a Registered Professional Nurse and trained as a Registered Midwife at Chris Hani Baragwanth Hospital. She has extensive experience in all things baby related with a special interest in preparing couples for the exciting journey of parenthood as well as supporting them in the weeks that follow the birth. She and her husband Richard are the proud parents of Becca age 6 and Tom age 4. Pippa has a comprehensive private clinic service that includes Childbirth Education classes, a Well Baby Clinic including Immunization as well as Post Natal and Lactation support. With over 5 years of running a private clinic facility and raising 2 children Pippa comes with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience of parenthood. Learn more about Pippa Hime