Breastfeeding: Too much milk?

I have just had my third baby (He's seven weeks old). I think I've had an overabundant supply with two of my children. With this one I've tried nursing on one side only while allowing my milk to spray into a receiving blanket once let-down occurs, (it hasn't really helped). Any ideas?



Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Some moms seem more prone than others to produce an oversupply of milk and this overflow can cause various problems. These babies may be very fussy during a feed, pulling off the breast, especially as the milk ejects. Sometimes they gag and choke while nursing. They may seem to always be hungry. Some moms with overabundant supplies actually think they don't have enough milk! And their babies often appear to dislike breastfeeding. They may pull away and cry soon after beginning to nurse (try not to feel rejected).

These babies may finish nursing quickly and are prone to gassiness and spitting up. They are usually very healthy babies, gaining well over the average of four to eight ounces per week, and may develop green, watery stools. Moms who have an overabundant milk supply often leak a lot in between feeds, and may be more prone to plugged ducts and breast infections.

Since oversupply is a complicated issue, working with a Board Certified Lactation Consultant familiar with your particular situation would be helpful. In the meantime, these ideas may make you and your little one more comfortable. One of the first things usually recommended is to feed your baby from one breast only, over a three to four hour period. During that time if he wants to nurse several times, still return to the "used" breast. Over the first couple of days, you will need to express just enough from the "unused" breast to remain comfortable. After three or four hours, switch to the other side, and keep following this pattern. This allows your baby to access your rich hind milk, which will help to keep him satisfied for longer periods of time and may reduce the amount of gas and irritability he experiences.

Maintaining proper positioning throughout the feed is crucial. Moms with very abundant supplies often have suffered from nipple trauma because their babies slide off the breast as the feed progresses. This is how some babies deal with all the milk they are getting, they just let it run out of their mouths. If yours slides down, gently break the suction by inserting your finger between your baby's gums and allow him to latch-on again, this time getting a full mouthful of breast tissue.

If your baby spits and chokes during a feed, try to feed in a more reclined position. You can remove your baby from your breast as the milk ejects, which can be several times per feed. Catch the milk in a diaper (or a cup). Calm your baby before putting him back to the breast.

It is important when making breastfeeding changes to monitor your baby's output. He should be having five to six good, wet diapers a day at this time (six to eight, if under six weeks of age) and a good sized bowel movement every day or so (two or more per day, if under six weeks). If you like, ask your doctor about weekly checks  to reassure you that your baby is continuing to gain an adequate amount of weight.

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