I have too much milk – what should I do?
By Sara Keli
While having too much milk can seem like a good thing, it can actually be quite problematic! Oversupply can cause a number of issues for you and your baby on your breastfeeding journey. Here’s what you can do to help the situation.
Signs of oversupply
In the first few weeks of breastfeeding, it’s very normal for you to have more milk than you need. It does take some time for your body to adjust to the right amount to feed your baby.
But you might have an oversupply issue if you’re having any of these issues beyond the first six weeks:
- your breasts fill very quickly after each feed
- you’re regularly engorged and have painful breasts, despite regularly feeding your baby
- at each feed, your baby refuses your second breast or is choking/gagging during the feed, or bringing up excess milk after the feed
- your baby’s nappies have frothy, green poo (this is caused by too much of the foremilk and not enough of the richer hindmilk)
- your baby is gaining weight very quickly.
If you’re concerned about oversupply and you’re experiencing any of the above, you may have too much milk. Your first stop should always be your GP, child health nurse or a lactation consultant so you can get a plan for your situation.
Tips to help with oversupply
One of the strategies you can use to help with an oversupply of milk is block feeding. The idea with block feeding is to completely drain each breast before moving on to the other breast. This helps your baby get all of hindmilk from the breast and not just feed on the foremilk.
When you’re block feeding, you only offer your baby one breast for a period – or block – of 3-4 hours. When you feed your baby during that time, you only offer them the one breast. Then in the next 3-4 hour block you offer the other breast.
Switch feeding positions
An oversupply of milk can often be quite overwhelming for your baby! They also tend to guzzle milk, which can cause them to get quite gassy.
One way to help slow the flow of your milk is to switch up your feeding positions and feed lying down or lying back against a pillow. Get yourself into a comfortable spot and try a few different positions to see what works best for you.
Use breast pads
Leaky breasts are part and parcel of breastfeeding … and often, more milk means more leaking. There isn’t anything you can do to stop the leaking, but you can use breast pads to stop the milk from leaking through to your clothes. Keep a supply handy. Tip: washable breast pads are perfect if you are using them a lot.
What to avoid
The first thing you need to avoid when you have an oversupply of milk is using a breast pump. You might think that getting rid of the milk will be a good thing, but using a breast pump can actually stimulate your breasts to create more milk – and when you have too much, that is the last thing you want to be doing!
You should also avoid anything that can aid in the production of milk, such as lactation cookies or other galactagogues.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated – that’s important for any breastfeeding mum!
Finally, avoid panicking or stressing about your situation. In a perfect world, we would all have exactly the right amount of milk that we need for our babies at all times. But this isn’t a perfect world – some mums struggle with how to boost their milk supply, but in your case, you have ample milk for your little one! The trick is to remain calm and get good advice that’s tailored to your own situation – talk to your GP, lactation consultant or child health nurse with any concerns at any time.