While many moms struggle with the issue of not having enough milk production to sustain the needs of their little one, the opposite problem can also occur: an oversupply of milk.
The main cause of the oversupply of milk is usually tied to hormone abnormalities.
Now, abnormalities aren’t a strictly bad term, it just means something that’s off the norm or that causes something to behave differently to what one is used to.
This is usually mainly attributed to stress or frequent nursing/pumping.
It’s a pitfall many moms fall into when trying to find ways of recovering from an oversupply of breast milk that only stimulates the hormones further and causes an even bigger problem, leading to issues like heavy engorgement, sore nipples, and mastitis, to name a few.
The symptoms of oversupply are rather easy to notice as well, the most common of which is a rather forceful letdown reflex that makes you express a lot of milk quickly.
This is the leading cause of sore nipples in the first place.
But not only is this an issue for you, a fast flow of milk can also pose a great issue for your little one as they may end up choking on the milk from the increased pressure or having an increased chance of colic occurring.
But even if that doesn’t end up happening and your baby doesn’t struggle, you might notice that he’s being a lot crankier now since he isn’t satisfied with what he’s gotten.
Despite getting more than enough milk, all of it is the initial, low-fat foremilk that comes at the start of a nursing session, while all of the higher fat hindmilk that comes at the end never manages to reach their mouths.
This higher fat milk is the one responsible for providing the feeling of being sated to your kids, thanks to a hormone it causes the body to produce called cholecystokinin.
Not getting enough of it will cause a reduced production of this hormone and will constantly leave your baby boy hungry for more.
This, in turn leads to a bigger problem, increased baby weight gain – dangerous amounts, in fact – all consequences of always remaining hungry after a feed and wanting more food.
The Signs Babies Are Dealing With An Oversupply Of Milk
Again, I touched upon this a bit at the start of the article, but I want to expand upon it further here.
When you breastfeed your baby while you’re dealing with an overabundance of milk, the unnaturally fast flow of the nipple is going to cause them to struggle with it and start gulping it all down.
1. Spitting up more often
Not only will this more often than not cause them to overfeed and make them fussier than before, it will also lead to more frequent spit-ups after a feeding session because of how forceful the flow of milk was.
But that’s not the end of their problems, not by a long shot.
2. More frequent instances of colic and overall fussiness
This uncomfortable way of feeding is a gateway to your precious child becoming a lot crankier and fussier than he was before.
It’s not something he’s used to and he’s not the one with the power to adapt to it quickly. Not yet, anyway.
This is what is known as colic and it can be a pain to try and decipher just what ends up causing it in the first place.
3. Your baby is gaining a lot of weight very quickly
The other issue that was talked a little bit about earlier is the rapid weight gain that your child may be experiencing as a result of this.
The cause, as previously mentioned, is that the baby is simply not getting enough cholecystokinin produced within his body, which leads to them wanting more as they’re still left hungry.
4. Getting gassier from swallowing too much air and drinking too much dairy
The excess gulping mentioned earlier will lead to babies swallowing a lot of air alongside their milk, which in turn leads to abdominal swelling and many gassy periods.
5. Watery poos and sharts
And, an issue of consuming too much milk is one that even adults have to face and that’s his poo becoming a lot more watery and coming out rather explosively with his farts.
It’s something you can’t escape unless you deprive your baby of milk, which will not solve any issues.
You need to take the core problem out which is the whole point of the discussion in this article.
6. Poop turning from yellow to green
But, not only will their poo become more watery, it’ll also turn from that healthy baby yellow to a sickly and frothy green color.
While not as big of a concern as the other factors, the green color is an indicator that your baby isn’t getting enough hindmilk and that there is an issue with your milk supply.
The frothiness, on the other hand, may mean that they might be ejecting helpful stomach mucus lining out.
This is normally not an issue with an oversupply of milk, but a case of irritated bowels or a stomach infection altogether.
Whatever the case may be, I suggest a visit to your local pediatrician regardless to find the root cause of this issue.
How To Deal With It?
This is the first question that comes to mind when facing any problem: how to solve it.
It’s only human nature, so I figured I’d just get straight into it here.
It might be hard to overcome the oversupply problem at first, but it’ll only become easier once you take the first step.
1. Don’t alternate between breasts too quickly
Wait until the baby has drained one breast sufficiently before swapping to the other one.
This method is usually called block feeding, one where you keep the baby feeding on one breast for a certain block of time, usually somewhere between 2 to 3 hours before alternating to the other.
This way you allow one of the breasts to rest at full capacity, which tricks the brain into causing the body to produce less milk than it had been so far, and your little one still gets his fair share and a full tummy all in one go, sating all of the baby’s needs.
2. Express little milk
Engorgement is one of the consequences of having your breasts having an overabundant milk supply, leaving the breasts hard and sore.
Hand express some milk out, but only a small amount – just enough to relieve the tension from engorgement, nothing more.
The further you go, the worse you’ll end up making it later because this falls under the category of breastfeeding or using the breast pump too often.
3. Don’t make the mistake of pumping or breastfeeding more often
The one thing many breastfeeding moms mistake when having to deal with an overly abundant flow of milk is to immediately start trying to pump it out in hopes that that would somehow empty the tanks, so to speak.
While that will happen, it will only happen temporarily as the more milk flows through your nipples, the more your body will think it needs to produce to keep the little one sated.
This is why I mentioned those hormones at the start.
They can be a real pain to deal with sometimes since they’re not that easy to control (but we do need them regardless.)
What you need to actually do is pump less. Get yourself back into a rhythm that suits what you and the baby need and feel comfortable with.
That’s all it boils down to in the end, though if faced with the problem of an oversupply of milk, you will probably need to tone that down too.
4. Use cabbage leaves to help deal with engorgement and breast swelling
It may sound odd, but it does actually work as using cabbage leaves like a cold compress helps reduce the swelling caused by engorgement.
It’s simple, yet affordable.
The way you go about it is taking two cabbage leaves and rinsing them out properly so they’re nice, clean, and, most importantly, cold.
Once done, place one over each breast with a hole cut out for your nipple to breathe and leave until it becomes warm.
You may need to repeat the process a few times to get to a desirable result (while you look like some sort of modern rendition of Eve), but you’ll get to your desired results eventually.
But that’s not all it does. Utilizing these cold cabbage covers ends up reducing the excess amount of milk production that you currently have.
Do be careful not to overdo it though as you may end up getting a lot more (or in this case, a lot less) than you bargained for and losing out on too much milk supply after.
5. Try sage or peppermint
Usually recommended to be imbibed as teas, both sage and peppermint have proven to help combat an oversupply of milk, peppermint being the cheaper and more accessible of the two and it also comes in oil form should you not be partial to teas.
Simply lather it on your breasts regularly until your breasts and your milk supply are back to a more normal state.
Be careful not to over-indulge in either of the two as that may lead to a low milk supply and then you have the opposite problem on your hands.
Don’t get stuck in this vicious cycle but be attentive: Moderate the use of these two herbs and you’ll be feeling better soon enough.
6. Try antihistamines or birth control pills
While this is a last resort type of deal, utilizing antihistamines and even birth controls to an extent has been reported to aid in lowering milk supply and helping women deal with breast engorgement and hyperlactation.
But, before considering trying this method out, consult with your healthcare provider.
Whether it’s your lactation consultant or a family doctor, heed their advice first before anything.
They’re the professionals and they know what’s best for you since they’re more acquainted with your situation than anyone on the internet or your friends ever will be.
And remember to not overdo it, stick to the prescribed amount that you are told to take if you decide to take this step in the first place.
Taking more than that will only end up doing more harm than good.
7. Use nursing pads or milk collection shells
While they won’t necessarily lower your milk supply, these two can help when dealing with sore nipples and breast engorgement.
I’d personally suggest milk collection shells over the pads because they make for a lot less mess and the milk can be utilized later if drained out early enough, but everyone has their own preferences and neither answer is wrong.
They’ll help deal with any issues concerning leakage and will protect your clothes from getting messy with breastmilk.
8. Check if you’re nursing properly
Getting a proper nursing position can be tricky if you’re a new mom – finding one that helps your baby get a deeper latch onto your breasts.
Double-check to see if your baby has a nice deep latch and that the nipple is properly in his mouth without much air leaking out.
Tilt his head back a bit with the rest of his body, and make sure the neck is properly straight otherwise he might have trouble swallowing.
If you’re unsure about what the right position is, go to your lactation consultant and demonstrate your technique so they can comment on it and help fix it.
A poor position will cause the baby to try biting down a bit harder on the nipple, resulting in a lot of soreness and discomfort for you.
9. Take short breaks during nursing
This is mostly for the baby rather than for your personal benefit if you’re currently dealing with an oversupply of milk.
Giving the baby a chance to catch his breath during breastfeeding and portioning the milk off slightly due to your fast flow might help deal with their fussiness and rapid weight gain they might be experiencing otherwise.
Just make sure to keep a gentle cloth handy to help wipe off any excess milk that comes off the breast and your baby’s mouth so he can have a nice clean environment to catch his breath and continue on once he’s ready again.
The right time to pause is when you see them start to struggle as if they’re drowning in the milk or you see their little face start getting upset.
10. Don’t use dummies or baby bottles as replacements for your breast
Babies love being next to their mother, the warmth makes them safe and eases them into latching onto your breast and feeding.
While using a dummy or a baby bottle will get rid of the issue of a faster flow, it could ultimately do more harm than good as it may be replaced with a new problem: nipple confusion.
The baby might start liking the bottle more than the breast and that can be a long-standing problem if not treated properly.
Besides, it won’t help solve your issue of high milk supply.
The Consequences Of An Excess Supply Of Milk For Breastfeeding Moms
Now, most of these have been covered in the solutions, but I felt it necessary to reiterate on some of them since these can be quite troublesome.
1. Breast engorgement
This is the first and most obvious issue that you’re going to have to deal with.
When your breasts are engorged, you’ll feel a sense of fullness in your breasts and they’re going to be a lot firmer, feeling as swollen as balloons.
The worst part of it is that your nipples end up flattening, which leaves less surface area for your little one to latch onto to feed.
Other hindrances during periods of breast engorgement are usually swollen lymph nodes around the armpits as your chest flares up and a fever that lingers around 100°F.
Not the most pleasant experience, I can assure you, after having to deal with it a few times myself.
2. Clogged milk ducts
An aftereffect of both breast engorgement and an oversupply of milk in and of itself, clogged milk ducts can be quite the issue to deal with.
These little clumps of tender fat form in the ducts that block the passage of milk, only worsening the breast engorgement and depriving your little one of his favorite meal.
They usually go after a couple of days if you apply some heat to them to let them melt off, but sometimes they might develop into something worse, depending on the severity of the issue and your feeding habits.
Having this massive amount of milk backed up due to overproduction is what causes them in both cases and the best way of preventing them in the first place is to keep a steady routine of feedings throughout the day.
That way your ducts get to clear themselves out every so often.
3. Explosive milk-ejection reflex
Also known as an explosive let-down reflex, this can prove quite troublesome and can make you go through a lot of nursing pads as you’ll start leaking a lot more milk from your breasts.
Public feeding becomes quite a nightmare when this occurs.
It also causes problems for your little one when he tries feeding initially due to the aforementioned fast flow of milk that sprouts up into its mouth at the start of every feeding session.
Mastitis is a condition where your breasts start feeling sore, inflamed, and rather painful.
It is a rather common occurrence in women regardless if you’re having oversupply issues or not. About 20% of women suffer through it, but it usually goes away after some time.
Though, it can return when your breasts become engorged from holding back too much milk inside of them.
Despite being rather common, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t harmless.
If you start feeling similar symptoms or start developing a fever alongside them, schedule an appointment with your doctor, lactation consultant, or other healthcare professional as soon as you can.
Preventing Future Issues With Overabundant Milk Supplies
Now, you may have managed to reduce your milk supply for the time being, but the issue may return if you keep to your old habits.
You need to adjust to a new lifestyle if you wish to stop these problems from rearing their ugly heads again.
1. Find a proper rhythm with your feedings.
Basically, find a routine and stick to it. Don’t let other things get in the way unless they’re extremely important.
You’re important too and so is your child – arguably more important than almost anything else that might happen to interfere with that, outside of family emergencies.
This is the best possible piece of advice here and holding onto this one will most effectively lower your chances of getting any more issues with an oversupply of milk.
2. Stop wearing tight-fitting clothing
This isn’t some personal attack, but a helpful piece of advice.
Tight clothing or clothing that’s simply too small tends to create pressure on your chest, which can lead to higher chances of breast engorgement and mastitis, which, in turn, causes problems with overflowing milk supply.
Stick to some baggier clothes that are more comfortable to keep yourself warm and covered and your baby nice and comfy.
A hoodie goes a long way in hiding any potential leaks and is easy to zip up and down to give your child easier access to your breasts.
3. Don’t forget about yourself
Maintaining a proper and well-balanced diet and getting a lot of rest are always going to aid you in keeping yourself healthy and preventing issues like these from occurring in the first place.
The stronger your immunity is, the less prone you’ll be to getting fevers, and the better equipped your body will be for dealing with the issues swiftly without any need for extra medical attention.
That’s because stress is a major player when it comes to any sort of complications, especially when it comes to the hormones as mentioned earlier.
4. Ask for professional help
As is always true with any sort of real-life issue, especially a medical one, it’s always best to look for a professional healthcare worker’s advice on preventing future developments of engorgement and overall milk supply issues – whether it is a high or low milk supply problem, it doesn’t matter.
What does matter though is that you do not shy away from that; they’re your bet at resolving whatever ails you and they might find some underlying issue that’s the root cause of all of this.
Looking At Increased Milk Production On A More Positive Note
Having an increased supply of milk isn’t always necessarily bad.
If you’ve managed to get a handle on all of the nasty soreness, the clogged nipple ducts, and the inflammation, you can do some good with that factory of liquid gold.
You can go ahead and donate any excess breast milk that you make to a local milk bank who can always use it to give to babies in the NICU who desperately need it or to mothers who are struggling with low milk supply.
You can make the world a better place and maybe even help other kids grow up healthy, turning one of your problems into a solution for a great number of people.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when worrying about an oversupply of milk, your lifestyle being the main concern as always.
From the most notorious culprit, breast engorgement, to clogged milk ducts and an overly fast flow of milk, all the way up to the ever-annoying mastitis – I’ve seen many moms during my lifetime struggle with these and even I did at the start.
But, thanks to a lot of effort on my part and advice from a doctor who works where I do, I’ve managed to put a cork in it for the time being.
That said, it’s not just the mother who’s at risk here, the baby is too.
Having an overly abundant supply of milk can throw your baby’s entire daily plan out of balance, leaving them in a rather sore and fussy mood.
Imagine if you had a whole bottle of milk just poured right up in your face when you’re already struggling, it must be nightmarish for a little one.
But, I trust that you’ve learned something while reading through this article and that you are someone who wouldn’t let anything happen to their precious child as well as themselves.
And I hope you don’t have to experience this issue again.
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