Oversupply while breastfeeding: Will I have too much milk?

My son never learned to latch on after two weeks in an incubator. We went to several consultants, but no luck. While he was still in the hospital, I started pumping and my milk supply was huge. The few times my son did try to go to breast, it was like a flood gate opened and he would gag and choke. I am six months pregnant. I almost wonder if it wouldn't be worth buying a pump to just feed my new baby my expressed milk. Do you think oversupply will repeat?

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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

It sounds as if you had a very challenging situation while breastfeeding your first baby! I would never expect this (or any) situation to repeat itself. Each baby is unique, and most likely the entire situation surrounding your baby-to-be's birth will be very different.

If overabundant milk supply should repeat, the way you handle your generous supply can be very different. Proper treatment of overabundant supply can make all the difference in the world.

  • I would recommend not expressing your milk unless your baby is not feeding properly at your breast or you have missed a feed. Expressing your milk removes more milk from your breasts, and that coupled with the extra stimulation will serve to further increase your supply -- something you definitely do not want! If your breast(s) feel uncomfortable in between a feed, express only enough milk for comfort. This is very important.
  • When you put your baby to breast allow her to finish the first breast, coming off on her own when she is relaxed and satisfied. Your baby may be quite happy with nursing on one side from the early days of nursing, or she may be interested in feeding at both breasts. The key is to allow her to control the feed.
  • As you see your milk supply increasing, you might want to begin nursing from only one breast per feed. Some mothers with a very large supply need to begin increasing time spent at one breast (very gradually) until they are only offering one breast in an 8 hour period. As always, if the "unused" breast is at all uncomfortable, express only enough milk for comfort. This may be only drops or an ounce or two. Proceed gradually!
  • Cold cabbage leaf compresses can be used if your milk supply is still in the very abundant range once breastfeeding is well established. Mothers have reported that this can dramatically decrease their supply, so use for a couple of hours at a time to see how your body will react. Increase application as needed for comfort and supply reduction.
  • A mother who has a very abundant supply even after using the above methods may want to speak with her Health Care Provider about using a medication or herb that has been known to reduce the milk supply, such as hormonal methods of birth control, antihistamines, or sage.

When making breastfeeding changes it is very important to keep a close eye on your baby's output to be sure it remains within normal ranges. Regular weight checks will also help to reassure you that your baby is growing normally. Very best wishes for comfortable nursing with your baby-to-be!

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