Considering the major problem of weaning is that mothers do not produce enough milk, having too much milk is also difficult for mothers. Termed as hyper-lactation, it is a condition when your breasts are producing more milk than your baby requires. The milk comes out forcibly, leaking a lot, and thus makes it difficult for the baby and she cannot feed properly. Sometimes milk might leak from the breasts too. Lactation is important as it strengthen the love bonds between mother and the newborn. Sometimes overproduction of milk becomes a troubling problem.’ However, having too much milk is pretty easy to resolve, and you need not worry about it.
Symptoms Of Hyper-lactation (Oversupply Of Milk)
Excessive milk production displays following signs for the mother as well as the baby:
Mother’s Signs – Overabundance Of Milk
Your breasts will feel very full, and you may develop plugged ducts or mastitis.
- Fullness in breasts
- Pain in breast due to engorgement while letdown
- Leaking while feedings
- Soaking the breast pads
- Leaking from the opposite breast especially while’nursing and feeding the baby
- Mastitis or swollen ducts can be present
Baby’s Signs – Forceful Letdown
Here are some of the common symptoms seen in the first week after birth of the baby.
- In forceful letdown the baby might gag after squirt of milk
- She feeds for just five or ten minutes and even clamp down on nipple and can make the nipples sore
- The baby will want to feed more often
- She might refuse to feed from breasts
- She might act fussy during nursing
- Spit up milk while feeding, because of a forceful letdown
- The baby becomes full very soon and ceases to feed and cannot get the higher fat creamier milk called the hind-milk which is present deep in breast. She thus gets less lactose in stomach and can have colic-like pain, too much gases, heavy stools and even too many wet diapers
- The baby might either have low weight or very high weight gain
What Are The Causes Of Overabundance Of Breast-milk?
Milk is produced from the alveoli or milk producing glands found in mother’s breasts. On an average there are around 100,000 to 300,000 alveoli in one breast, some women tend to be in the higher end range and thus produce more milk. At other times, some mothers pump milk more than required, sending the body the sign that they need more milk. This also causes oversupply of milk. Hormonal imbalances, medications and pituitary tumors can also be responsible for excessive milk production from the breasts.
Oversupply Breast Milk On One Side
If one of your breasts is producing excess milk, it is better to nurse your baby more frequently from that particular side. Feed him as many times he wishes because some babies are unable to fill their stomach fully in one feed.
Oversupply Breastfeeding Positions
There are few nursing or breastfeeding positions which might help your baby in dealing with the excessive milk flow.
- Hold your baby in sit up position facing you and nurse. Flex baby’s head a bit to make him comfortable
- You can lean back or recline with baby in order to help gravity slow the milk flow
- Lie down on your side with your baby and feed him. Keep a towel below because this position is helpful in letting down the excess milk drip on the towel
- Relaxing during letdown is also helpful as milk usually spurts out forcibly in the beginning and then slows down
- If you baby seems to gulp milk too fast, immediately take the breast off and burp him. Then return to nursing again
Ask you pediatrician to tell you how to use the nipple shield while nursing the baby. Nipple shield is also very helpful to the baby in coping with milk flow.
Oversupply Of Breast Milk And Reflux
Spitting up in babies caused by oversupply is often confused with reflux or gastroesophageal reflux. Reflux is a result of wrong timing of the opening of muscles present at the stomach opening (orifice). In this case it is the letdown that is more powerful than your baby can handle, making her pull away or spit after a few minutes of nursing.
Breast Milk Oversupply And Pumping
Do not pump or express milk unless you do not have a choice other than this. Expressing milk might provide transient relief but sends signals to your pituitary that the breasts are empty. The body immediately produces more milk and breast become full soon. But if you are pumping milk, start by expressing milk from both breasts till they are just about drained. Then nurse your baby only on one breast for a couple of feeds, the same time. Just relieve the pressure off the other breast by pumping a little milk. This will let your body know that it needs to produce less milk. This technique might show some results in 24-48 hours.
Effects Of Too Much Breast-milk On The Baby
Oversupply of milk does not predispose any adverse effect for the baby. It in fact is an indication that your body is providing more food to your little one for surviving, however, the babies of moms who are producing more milk usually get more fore-milk than hind milk. As such they miss out on the fat, creamier and tastier hind-milk, which helps them put on weight. Babies either become full with the fast flow of fore-milk, or are unable to feed and remain hungry. Sometimes the forceful letdown makes a baby choke and he may gag.’The baby can have colicky and gassy symptoms, and can also pass out green stools. Her weight gain may also be affected.
Oversupply of breast milk can be resolved by adopting proper positions and guidance. If you like, you can take the help of a lactation expert as well. You must not stop nursing at all, but should keep a watch for any signs of mastitis and sore nipples, which are likely as your baby It is good to take advice from the pediatrician on how to feed the baby.