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Many mothers experience an excess of milk during engorgement phase which is normal. But even after supply "regulation" occurs, some mothers continue to have more than enough milk. This is often referred to as oversupply. Some people may consider this "lucky" or a good problem to have. However, Oversupply can have many consequences if not managed properly. Oversupply can result in baby having a hard time managing milk flow and experiencing either poor or excess weight gain, reflux, and colic. Mom, could experience clogged ducts, mastitis, and even yeast infections since women with Oversupply tend to also have a lot of leakage keeping the breasts moist and providing a prime environment for yeast growth. Issues such as these could actually lead to low milk supply! Ironic, huh.
Consequences of Oversupply
Reflux in Baby
Colic in Baby
Low milk supply
So you have too much milk. You're trying to control these lactating volcanoes that are ready to erupt any time, but where do you start?! Well, first of all you might want to invest in some good nursing pads to collect milk leakage. There are many different kinds on the market including disposable and reusable. You could even get some custom made to a special absorbency on sites like Etsy. Well, you could pump the milk to get it out, right? That would relieve any pressure. But milk removal signals milk production. Pumping could, and typically does, lead to even more of an oversupply.
So how do we signal our bodies to not make so much milk? Well that's easy, don't pump. Full breasts signal the body to stop producing so much, right? But wait! That can lead to clogged ducts and mastitis.
So what on earth is a girl to do?
Hand expressing to relieve the pressure is often a great way to relieve the full feeling without causing stronger oversupply. This approach can also mitigate an excessively strong let down when baby is nursing, therefore avoiding the feeling of drowning baby.
Another way to make it easier for baby, is to unlatch baby and catch the initial let down in a cloth, cup, bowl, etc. and then relatch baby to continue the feeding. Another approach to controlling oversupply is called block feeding. This approach isn't always necessary or even appropriate, as it does strongly signal your body to slow down milk production. This should be saved for mothers who are sure they have an oversupply, and are not just still in the early stages of engorgement and regulation. Block feeding methods can slightly vary, depending on who you're talking to, but in general it is the practice of nursing on the same breast for a couple of back to back feedings, and then switching sides. You can express for comfort on the side you don't use to avoid clogs. Feeding on this kind of schedule for a little while can easy oversupply. Please discuss this method with your lactation support person to see if it could work well for you.
All of these methods can be combined with a "laid back" position which lets gravity work in your favor. KellyMom and La Leche League both have some great guides on managing oversupply as well!
Remove Baby and Catch Let Down
Laid Back Nursing
Have you struggled with oversupply? What symptoms did you have? What challenges did it cause? How did you manage it?
Did you find this information helpful? Please Share this post with your friends and family in case they, or someone they know is struggling with oversupply.