For many women successfully breastfeeding requires a really good latch and a healthy supply of breast milk. It usually takes a couple of weeks to build up your milk supply with the help of your baby before breastfeeding becomes fully established. Successful breastfeeding is supply and demand, the more your baby drinks the more milk you produce.
So what happens if you are over producing?
At first glance surely if your issue is over supply of breast milk this can only be a good thing?
Hyperlactation: “Breastmilk over supply – too much of the milk production stimulating hormone prolactin in your blood”.
These are a few signs of possible Hyperlactation
- Breastmilk fast flow
- Uncomfortable and leaking breasts
- Engorged breasts
- Possible recurrent Mastitis
- Immediate let down
- Back pain
Our Top Tips to help you to successfully manage your milk supply
- Try laid back feed position the gravity will help your baby control the flow of your Breastmilk.
- Nipple shields will really help to reduce the flow of your breastmilk for your baby making feeding less stressful.
- Relieve the pressure and either hand express a little before each feed or try using a Hakka perfect to take the edge off before a feed.
- Nursing pads are essential in the first few weeks
Baby Margot Case Study
Baby Margot arrived one weeks early and out of necessity was delivered by Caesarian weighing 5lbs 5oz. Izzy had always planned to breastfeed and was very excited on the birth of their first baby.
I joined Izzy and Margot at home on day three after being discharged from hospital. Margot was diagnosed with breastfeeding Jaundice so due to this and her slight prematurity it was important to offer regular small feeds to help reduce the Jaundice and increase a natural weight gain.
I immediately noticed that Izzy had slightly flat and inverted nipples and given that Margot was an early baby I was concerned that this could be an issue when latching to breastfeed. Izzy’s milk also arrived on the same day so the challenge was to try help Margot to successfully latch with very full breasts. The first few attempts were quite a struggle but with lots of attention to positioning and shaping Margot found her groove and successfully maintained a great latch.
Once latched the next hurdle was the amount of milk Izzy was producing and in particular her immediate let down reflex which was initially very hard for Margot to cope with. In the beginning Izzy tried expressing to take the edge off which did help but I was always concerned about making even more milk and of course it was time consuming and challenging for Izzy if Margot woke up early from her naps. So we tried the nipple shields which really helped supported by taking her off the breast for regular burping. Due to the river of milk most of her feeds would usually end up with the majority of milk coming straight back up at speed and although it did not seem to cause any pain or discomfort to Margot it did mean at least one complete change of clothing every feed in the first few weeks.
Over the next couple of weeks I would expect Izzy’s milk supply to plateau and as Margot grows and develops breastfeeding will become easier for both Margot and Izzy. We always referred to Margot as small and mighty which proved to be very true when it came to their breastfeeding journey!
This is Izzy and Margot’s story...
“I will never forget the look on the midwife’s face when, on my third day in hospital, my milk came in and I was pumping 100ml of milk in less than 5 minutes. A stream of midwives fled into my room exclaiming, “how lucky I was” and “how unusual it was to produce that much milk so quickly”. At this point, I felt excited from the feedback, and went home elated.
However, breastfeeding wasn’t plain sailing for Margot and me, as the feeds progress at home. I started to feel increasingly disheartened as it became clear my let down was overwhelming for my daughter and she would choke, pull away and be sick after most latches. Alongside this, I was pumping before every feed to relieve my swollen breasts, leaking milk everywhere and changing Margot’s outfits at least once per feed as they were covered in milk and vomit. Perhaps the worst part was that I felt guilty for finding it hard as everyone, outside of home, kept telling me how lucky I was to have so much milk, as that can never be a bad thing, no?
It was hard for four to six weeks but, with help from Vickie at The Baby Academy, I began to manage my oversupply and didn’t feel as stressed. My breasts adjusted to the demand and Margot became a more efficient feeder, helped enormously by nipple shields which assisted the latch and reduced the milk flow.
As my breastfeeding journey continues I’m still not sure I’ll ever get to the stage of breastfeeding in public (as it’s still such a messy process and she does still occasionally vomit) however it has been worth persevering as breastfeeding really is magical.
My advice if you have oversupply? Well I’m certainly no expert but here are a few things I advise:
- Read your baby’s signals when on the breast and take them off for a rest if they begin to get fidgety
- Use nipple shields
- Use a breast pump in the initial days to take the edge off while your baby gets used to your supply (especially with smaller babes)
- Always offer your baby both breasts per feed
- Have a mountain of muslins handy for each feed
- Buy waterproof pillow protectors to protect your pillows
- Buy plenty of washing detergent as the washing machine will be on about three times a day
- Use infacol before each feed to settle your baby’s stomach and to assist with burping
- Buy lots of freezer bags as you’ll have plenty of milk to store in the freezer
- Don’t feel guilty if you’re finding it hard and keep smiling when people keep telling you how lucky you are!
- Try and enjoy it as much as you can”