I’ve recently read an article about “what it’s like to be a mom who produces too much breastmilk“. I was quite surprised when reading the headline because I find this to be a topic which hardly gets any attention.
Being a mother who produces more breastmilk than my babies need(ed), I thought that I’d share a couple of tips thanks to which I have managed to live well with my oversupply instead of seeing it as a curse.
If you too have breastmilk oversupply, I recommend you to:
Get Professional Help
I experienced the time right after birth to be hardest. Once my milk kicked in, my breasts doubled or even tripled in size. They were so full with milk, making them blazing and hard so that my baby had a hard time to get the nipple into his/her mouth an latch properly. Moreover, with my baby’s stomach still being so small so that he/she only needed a tiny amount of milk, I had way too much excess milk that had to get out of the breasts to avoid mastitis. When my first child was born I did not get much support at the hospital so I had to find out myself how to cope with this situation and find out the specific breastfeeding mechanics that my body required. This took time and was a bit frustrating which is not ideal when you would like to bond with your baby and recover from the birth which had required so much of your energy.
This is why I can only recommend to reach out to a professional lactation consultant (independent one or a “leader” affiliated to La Leche Ligue ), someone who is specialised in breastfeeding. Though midwifes do hold knowledge of breastfeeding, often they do only cover parts of it during their studies (unless you found someone who did more extensive studies to broaden her skill set). A professional lactation consultant can show you how to cope with the excess milk (i.e. breast massage) and apply techniques that will be soothing and help you learn how to regulate your milk supply. Don’t wait too long but seek for help fast. You’re postpartum experience and your breastfeeding journey will be much more stressless.
Here are some of the things that help me a lot (please note that these are specific to my body so they may differ from one person to another):
As my breast are filled up with milk before every feed I have incorporated the habit to massage excess milk out to reduce the pressure. This way, my baby can latch more easily and does not have to deal with milk that literally shoots into her mouth and forces her to binch drink until she throws up.
I use the excess milk as a bath supplement for my babies. However, for those who are organised you can also donate your milk to the milk bank to benefit mothers in need who struggle do produce breastmilk.
Every now and then my baby skips a feed. When this happens I start to feel tired, dizzy and I feel soreness in my arms and breasts which are signs for that milk is blocked somewhere in the breast. I have learned to recognise and listen to those signals, locate the spots and how to massage the milk out in order to avoid mastitis (breast infection).
Regulate Milk Production
I NEVER pump as this stimulates my milk production. If I want to express milk I massage it out. It makes me feel like a cow but hey…I have learned to laugh about it 😉
I only offer one boob per feed, too. If I offer both, my breasts receive the signal that they need to produce more milk. Moreover, my baby is more than satisfied with drinking from one boob at a time so for us the one boob approach works perfectly.
I also stay away from foods and drinks that stimulate milk production (i.e. breastfeeding tea, wheat beer…).
When I breastfeed with one breast the other breast gets stimulated and leaks simultaneously. Sometimes I loose up to 60ml only through leaking. Hence, breastfeeding is a very wet affair for me. It happened more than once that I ended up with a wet shirt and had to switch clothes only because of the leakage. That’s why breastpads or cloths are key for me. There are various brands that sell disposable or washable pads. In my eyes washable pads are more economic and ecologic but unfortunately those that I have tried out have not been absorbent enough (for now I have switched to cotton cloths which are bigger and which I fold to obtain more layers). Changing/washing the pads/cloths is important, too, in order to keep the area clean and hygienic (remember: your milk “lives” and includes bacteria). That said, I recommend you try out what works best for you as the result depends on the amount milk that you loose, which of course differs from one person to another.
I had for sure moments when I was a bit annoyed, especially by the leaking. However, after a little bit of time (ca. 3 months), my milk supply regulated a bit more towards “normal”. Today, the milk still shoots out and my boobs still do leak. However, I hardly get any problems with soreness and if this happens I’m in the possession of the techniques to avoid any further aggravations. Moreover, reminding myself that my baby is getting enough milk and that my leaking milk is (almost) the only thing I have to worry about, made me realise how lucky I am which helped me to keep a positive view.
Picture on top by Libia Arteaga