breastfeeding: oversupply

23 May

Personally, my breastfeeding issues were a lack of milk, not an abundance. But some women with PCOS suffer oversupply, rather than a lack of supply.

While it might seem that this is a non-problem, it can cause some very real breastfeeding issues! Signs of oversupply include:
* a fussy baby who wants to eat often: this is counterintuitive, but it happens. The baby gets so much of the thinner, less satisfying foremilk that he fills up, so he stops nursing…but without the creamier, higher-fat hindmilk, he doesn’t stay satisfied for long;
* green stools in the baby;
* gassiness in the baby;
* frequent plugged ducts or mastitis problems;
* a baby who fusses or fights at the breast, or who frequently chokes or sputters while nursing;
* a baby who spits up often;
* sore nipples [though most breastfeeding moms experience this to some degree at some point];
* breasts that feel extremely full most of the time;
* spraying milk during letdown.

If you think oversupply could be causing you a problem, there are a few things that you can do to try to correct it. The first, and easiest, is to try block nursing. Instead of nursing on both sides at every feeding, offer just one side. Many moms find it useful to offer the same side for a certain amount of time–for example, 2 hours using the left side, then 2 hours on the right. This tells your body to produce a bit less, and it helps your baby get more hindmilk. Some mothers have to increase this time span to as much as 6 or 8 hours per side–but go slowly because you don’t want your supply to drop TOO much, nor do you want to court plugged ducts.

You do have to be careful, if you’re block nursing, that you don’t end up with clogged ducts and painful engorgement on the other side. It’s a balancing act, though, because pumping or hand expressing on that side sends your body the signal that you need that milk and you’re using it. If you do pump or hand express, do just enough to eliminate the discomfort. Don’t empty the breast. You want to send your body the signal that your baby has plenty of milk and does not need more!

Some moms also find it useful to break the baby’s latch at letdown, allow the initial rush of milk to flow into a towel or burp cloth, then put the baby back to the breast. Obviously, some babies tolerate this better than others! It serves a double purpose, though, if your baby is one who chokes or sputters during nursing: it keeps the baby from having to deal with the forceful initial letdown, and it makes it easier for your babe to get hindmilk [since some of the foremilk is absorbed into your cloth instead].

If your baby is having a lot of trouble with the fast flow of milk, some moms find that nursing while lying on your back can help. You might have to experiment to find a position that works for you, but gravity can be your friend here!

A good lactation consultant can also help you figure out strategies for dealing with this problem. You may feel at first like your baby is not getting enough milk, because she might be hungry all the time, so it’s worth thinking about this list of signs if you are struggling with breastfeeding an unhappy, unsatisfied baby. An LC can also help you determine whether oversupply is your problem!


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