Much of a Good Thing, When You Can Feed the Neighborhood!

on May 21, 2014 in Breastfeeding

Some mothers have a problem with making too much milk. While some may think this is a happy problem, being an over producer can be uncomfortable and lead to other difficulties.

Leaking milk excessively and having tender breasts are just a couple of the issues that happen when overproduction occurs. More serious problems like plugged milk ducts and even mastitis may also be associated with having too much milk.

Some babies also seem to have difficulties when there is too much milk. Many young babies choke and come off the breast when nursing when the milk lets-down. If the baby is fed on both breasts at each feeding, so that the mother gets relief from being overly full, the baby may suffer with gassiness and cramping.

Many mothers feel they need to deal with this problem by the daily expressing of excess milk in addition to nursing. While expressing milk after nursings or in-between nursings may provide temporary relief, it may actually aggravate the situation even more by signaling the breast to produce even more milk.

So what can you do when your breasts are continuously over producing? The goal is to lessen the overall milk supply. You can do this in a few ways. One of the best ways is to only nurse from one breast per feeding and allowing the other side to be engorged until the next feeding. It is sustained engorgement that signals the breasts to make less milk. Nursing from just one breast per feeding has other benefits as well. The baby who nurses completely on one side will receive a mixture of both the early milk, also known as foremilk, as well as more of the fatty, hind milk. Having the baby switch breasts during the feeding when a mother over produces, can mean that the baby gets a disproportional amount of the low fat foremilk, which can cause the baby to suffer with gassiness and cramping along with very frequent stooling. Sometimes the stools will be watery, frothy and even green in color.

So you may ask, what do I do if I cannot tolerate nursing from just one side per feeding? You can try getting some relief by using cool packs to your breasts, even chilled cabbage leaves. If you absolutely must, you can express just a small amount of milk from the side not nursed on. Or if you want to feed your freezer with milk for upcoming separations, pump the side you just fed from and store that high fat milk for later. This may also help you deal with not returning to nursing on that side for a longer period of time. But keep in mind that tolerating the engorgement will help lower your overall production.

Some mothers may need to take other measures but this can be entering dangerous territory without the guidance of a lactation consultant. There are natural remedies as well as some medications that can be helpful, but I don’t recommend these until you have done one-sided nursing for several days before trying thes

Stronger remedies include drinking sage tea, taking peppermint, or even using decongestants like Sudafed. These solutions may help a great deal, but with that being said, some mothers have found that their milk supply takes a dramatic drop leading to an inadequate milk supply. Certainly working with a lactation consultant can help a great deal.