Breast milk is the best feed for babies as it provides them with all nutrients that they need to grow and develop along with the power to boost immunity. Breastfeeding mothers attend to the demands of their babies and provide them with their breast milk as and when the baby demands. Breast milk takes some time to adjust to the baby’s demands. It usually takes around 6 weeks for breast milk to adjust to the baby’s needs. Sometimes a mother’s milk might not be enough to support the baby’s hunger and it has to be supplemented by top feed. At other times, a mother’s breast continues to make more milk than required by the baby- this is known as oversupply of breast milk.
Here are certain things you must know if you have an oversupply of breast milk:
It is unwise to try to decrease your milk supply. If oversupply of your breast milk is creating problems to your health and your doctor is concerned about it, then you need to take certain measures. But this is only in rare cases. Otherwise you should never try to reduce your milk supply. You could end up with less breast milk than your baby needs, particularly in the crucial first month when you’re trying to establish your supply.
Also read: How long does Breast milk last?
The first few weeks will be difficult as you would be spilling milk all over- even on the baby’s face. The baby is just getting the hang of sucking milk and will get used to it in a few weeks. If you and your baby are happy with the milk supply, then give the baby sometime. In a few weeks, the milk will adjust to the baby’s needs and your baby will also enjoy the supply of your milk.
In the early weeks, your breasts are learning how much breast milk your baby needs. They are learning how much milk to make every hour. Because of this, excessive leaking can take place as breasts can fill quickly. This even results in milk being sprayed from your breasts- which is common and normal. This is because the milk-making hormone prolactin will be increasing each time milk is removed from your breasts.
It is after around 6 weeks that prolactin will decrease and your breast will start following the demand and supply system. As soon as the baby is hungry, you should offer him your milk. That can be every hour or even every half an hour, because babies can demand milk anytime. Thus always make your breasts available for your baby.
If you know that even after 6 weeks your milk supply is overflowing, try restricting baby to one breast for 3-hour or longer blocks of time before giving the other breast. This is called block feeding. It is very effective at bringing down milk production when a mother is making way too much milk. Allowing the breasts to stay full for a particular period of time sends the signal to the breasts to slow milk production.
Also read: Why Is Breast Milk The Best Food Of Nature?
Sometimes the baby coughs and spurts out the milk if there is oversupply of milk and the baby is not able to handle so much in his mouth. Here the best strategy that you can apply is to try different feeding positions. The most difficult feeding positions for babies from a heavy milk-flow point of view are those in which milk is flowing downwards into their throats, such as all those in which mothers sit upright.Try putting the baby’s head in an upright position so that the milk doesn’t go straight into the throat. Feeding in a reclined position, or lying down, can be helpful because it gives your baby more control. Ask you doctor other positions you can try as to make the baby more comfortable.
If you are feeding from one breast the other breast will have full milk and might lead to discomfort. In such case, you should try to hand express a small amount of milk from the unused breast to relieve pressure or discomfort. This means put little pressure on your breasts to secrete the milk, but don’t empty it. It is the residual milk in the unused breast that triggers and gives the message to the breast to reduce the milk production.
If you’re leaking milk, using disposable nursing pads or milk collection shells inside your bra could help you stay dry. In this way the extra milk can come off and it does not put you in an embarrassing situation in public places as well.
This is for those mums with more extreme oversupply and is called ‘full drainage’. In this technique you use an electric breast pump to fully drain your breasts at the beginning of your day. Then feed your baby immediately afterwards. With the drainage the flow will be slower, which means your baby should be able to cope better. He’ll also get more of the hind milk which is higher-fat milk that comes at the end of a feed, so will feel more satisfied. But that does not mean you need to do this every time since foremilk is equally important. Once the breasts have become used to this technique you can stop and give your baby full milk supply.
Sometimes mothers think that they are oversupplying but they are not. Have a health professional such as a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding counsellor, or a nurse, watch your baby breastfeed to diagnose if there is true oversupply. Sometimes the oversupply of breast milk can also cause mastitis and can be painful. Thus it is very important to go and show to your doctor if you think that you really have the problem of oversupply.
Want to share your experience as a mom with other moms through words or images? Become a part of the Moms United community. Click here and we will get in touch with you