Oversupply

An oversupply occurs when you produce more milk than your baby needs. This issue is common especially in the first few weeks when you are establishing breastfeeding. During this time period you may experience some of the symptoms listed below but after 4-6 weeks your breasts will usually adjust to producing the amount your baby requires and the oversupply will settle. However for some women this issue can be ongoing.

Signs of an Oversupply

  • Breasts filling too quickly
  • Feeling full even after baby has breastfed and appears satisfied
  • Baby is only taking one breast at each feed and may gag or gulp especially at the beginning of each feed
  • Baby is fussy between feeds
  • Baby may lose weight or may gain weight rapidly as the baby is ofte receiving large volumes of fore milk which is often low in fat
  • You are changing more than 6 heavily wet (disposable) nappies per day
  • Your baby’s poo appears frothy and green and may be explosive (this is usually due to lactose overload and may occur if the baby is drinking an excessive amount of milk)

How to reduce an oversupply

  • Breastfeed your baby on demand rather than on a schedule. It is common for babies to breastfeed 8-12 times in 24 hours
  • Ensure your baby is latched correctly at the breast and shows signs of getting enough milk (5 heavily wet nappies in 24 hours, pooing at least once a day in the first few weeks)
  • If your breasts feel full wake your baby to breastfeed
  • Consider hand expressing prior to feeding to make it easier for the baby to latch effectively to the breast
  • Allow baby to feed from one breast until that breast feels softer and no lumps are present before offering the second then switch at the next feed. The way I explain to my patients is the first breast is ‘dinner’ and the second breast is ‘desert’
  • If your breasts have lumps or the baby is not fully draining the breast during feeds then you will need to express and drain the breast thoroughly at least once per day to prevent mastitis.
  • Always keep in mind that breast milk is produced on a demand and supply basis so the more you stimulate your breasts through breastfeeding or expressing the more milk you are going to produce. Therefore it is important not to over express as this will make the oversupply worse

Resources

Australian Breastfeeding Association- Too much milk

https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/toomuch.html

BreastFeeding Inc- Manage Breastmilk Intake

https//www.breastfeedinginc.ca/informations/protocol-to-manage-breastmilk-intake/

King Edward Memorial Hospital- Oversupply
http://www.kemh.health.wa.gov.au/development/manuals/O&G_guidelines/sectionb/8/b8.2.5.pdf