Need help regulating- too much milk supply

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-06-2013
Need help regulating- too much milk supply
6
Wed, 03-06-2013 - 7:33pm

First time breastfeeder to my 7 week old .  Had latch on issues, mastitis, thrush,and a clogged duct so pumped a lot to get through all that and now have too much milk. I think! It even squirts out after he is done eating sometimes. When I go to work I will pump and get 3 oz on each side in like 8 minutes so I stop(thought you had to pump 15 minutes). He empties my breast fairly quickly as well. I worry he is not getting the hind milk if he gulps it down so fast then falls asleep.I thought a woman would be regulated by now.  He will go 3 hours in between feedings during the day and pushing 5 hours during the night. When it is getting close to feeding time my breasts are so heavy and lumpy. I thought engorgement was something that happened right when the milk came in not 7 weeks later. So I heard cabbage leaves helped so I picked some up today. I don't want to dry up my supply but I would like to regulate it so I don't get so full and lumpy between feedings. I like the floppy/empty feeling much better! A friend said to tough it out and they will adjust to his needs but I fear another clog and infection. HELP!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2007
Fri, 03-08-2013 - 3:30pm

Wow that is great that you have more milk than you need! i am kind of in that situation too, but after having the opposite with my first I am glad :)

I am not an expert here so would definitely wait for Kathy or someone to weigh in, but I thought I heard that cabbage leaves dried you up completely.

In my opinion, 7 weeks might be a bit too early to try regulating, because i think it can take a few months for your body to regulate based on supply/demand. My pediatrician told me at one point it can take 6 months. And you'd be surprised  because in the next few months, your LO could start taking a whole lot more!

I feel for you on the clogs, mastitis, etc as I get them regularly too! One thing that really helps with the clogs is lecithin. you can get it at Whole Foods and other natural food stores. Someone here suggested it and it has been a huge help to me.

I don't know how you feel about this, but there are milk banks across the country that will take excess breast milk gladly. They do something to it and pass it on to mothers of premature and NICU babies. I know there is a huge demand for it right now! They don't call it liquid gold for nothing! :) I contribute to the Mothers Milk Bank in San Jose, for what its worth!

Good luck! i know the engorgement can be painful, but that does start to regulate. I just think it will take a couple of months because baby will start to eat more when they are not as sleepy as they are in the first few weeks!

:)Kara

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2008
Fri, 03-08-2013 - 3:48pm

Welcome to the board and thanks for stopping by! I'm sorry you've been having such issues with oversupply for so long. It's not surprising that such oversupply would cause a plug and mastitis. Would it be ok if I asked a few questions?

- Through any of your prior breastfeeding issues, did you ever work with a LLL Leader or a lactation consultant?

- Are all those prior issues totally resolved or are any still lingering?

- Just as a point of reference, the average mom can pump 1-3 ounces total (both sides combined) so if you're able to pump 6 ounces in 8 minutes, yes, I would agree oversupply is a likely scenario. The average mom does have to pump more like 15 minutes but that's by no means a hard and fast rule. Can I assume that baby is taking much less than that in his bottles while you're away? Would it be an option to just pump off the amount you'll need for baby's next day's feeding (usually more like 3 ounces at a clip) and then stopping?

- The two strategies that help many moms with oversupply are uphill nursing and block feeding. Uphill nursing means using positions where you're working against the flow of gravity. What positions do you typically use to nurse? Many moms have a good experience with the semi-reclining or biological nurturing position where you'd recline back about 45 degrees. Here's some information on that that might be helpful:

http://www.llli.org/btissue5pg04

http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/video/bn3clip.html

http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/assets/articles/Colson%202007%20non%20prescriptive%20recipe%20for%20BF.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SZ3zb5OYMA  (in Spanish but you’ll get the idea)

- The other strategy that often helps with oversupply is called block feeding. That's where you'd nurse off one side only for a period of time. How milk production works is that the more frequently the breast is emptied, the more milk is produced. If you're able to give each breast a "rest" for a period of time, that helps dial back the production. For some moms, nursing just one side per session for a while is enough. For other moms, they might need to nurse on one side only for a period of 4-6 hours, then for the following 4-6 hours, nurse only off the other side. If you're really engorged, it's ok to pump off a bit but try to minimize so as to not encourage your body to produce more milk.

- I'm not sure I'd agree with your friend's advice that you should do nothing and just tough it out. If you were having discomfort or a medical issue with some other part of your body, do you think your friend would tell you to just deal with it or to consult with an expert or health care professional on the issue? I'm glad you decided the second option and only wish you had swung by earlier rather than being in such discomfort for 7 weeks now.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-21-2009
Sat, 03-09-2013 - 11:26am

I agree with Dana, I would not just “tough it out” since that can put you at risk for plugs and mastitis and it’s just not comfortable. Besides, there are many things you can do to help it now.

Don’t worry too much about down regulating supply. I have not found that to be a problem with moms with oversupply. As long as your baby is growing adequately and making 5-6 sopping wets per day your body is making enough milk and will continue to.

Here’s some information on oversupply:

Oversupply

http://parenting.ivillage.com/baby/bbreastfeed/0,,94kctqn6,00.html

There’s another strategy that’s a little newer that you might try. What you do is pump one time per day until you are ‘dry’. Often this ‘resets’ the supply. After your pump session you should just breastfeed one breast per feeding and/or block feed and pump as needed for your next day at work. Some moms need to do the ‘pump until your dry’ twice a few days apart.

There are also medical interventions that you can discuss with your doctor if other things aren’t working, such as taking pseudophed a cold medicine known to lower supply or estrogen based birth control pills. Most moms who do this go with the pseudophed since it’s easier to do. Most doctors will recommend use it one day per the package directions and then evaluate how you are doing. If one day doesn’t work it may be recommended to use it for more days until you get the results you need.

Keep us posted on how you are doing and of course get back with any follow up questions

Warmly,

iVillage lactation consultant

and Grammy to Brennan, Elias, Elianna, Tahlia, Makenna, Maura, Silas and Charlotte    

Kathy Kuhn IBCLC ivillage lactation consultant Grammy to Brennan, Elias, Elianna, Tahlia, Makenna, Maura, Silas, and Charlotte

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-06-2013
Mon, 04-08-2013 - 10:25pm
Thanks for all the advice. Week 12 and we are doing much better with all the tips. I think feeding him one breast per feeding is what did the trick for us. It took about 2 weeks to finally feel relief. When I pump now its about 5 oz in 15 minutes. Dont have that horrible engorged feeling either. Im sure as he has his growth apurt soon that will change but now that i know how to regulate my supply we will be just fine. Thanks for all the tips and encouragement. Ive gone from ready to quit breastfeeding to loving it!
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-10-2008
Tue, 04-16-2013 - 7:26am

That's so great to hear your success story. Thanks for sharing! Great work, mama!!

Dana

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-08-2013
Wed, 10-09-2013 - 2:05pm

I have a similiar issue with my one month old. He struggles very much with every feeding- unless I pump 1-2 ounces prior. My overactive let down is ferocious. I usually have 3 let downs in the the first couple of minutes and usually he will only nurse for 5 minutes and then it is as though he gets frustrated.

 I also would love to have stores of breast milk-- right now I pump about 25 ounces in 24 hours with pumping for comfort. I know this is contributing to my problem-- but I do want to store milk. Is there a less stimulating method of continuing to pump to store milk without increasing my breast milk production? Maybe a time of day, a certain routine, etc. Is pumping more at routine intervals better than 2 ounces prior to each feeding in terms of not worsening supply?  Right now, I pump the most at night as it seems I get the most engorged/full then, but trying to time it prior to when the baby wakes up and close enough to the feeding is difficult and worsening my sleep deprivation.

The baby eats every 2 hours during the day (and in that 2 hour period I get very full) and about every 2.5-3 hours at night.

I have done block feeding with 2 feeds on each breast. I still feel the letdown is an issue, although I am feeling less engorgement. The breast I am not using requires more pumping prior to being able to use it again or else the baby throws a fit. My baby is never able to empty my breast and I do worry about foremilk/hindmilk.