Over Production of Breast Milk: How To Prevent & Manage

Over Production of Breast Milk: How To Prevent & Manage
Over Production of Breast Milk
Photograph by Ryan McGuire

Over Production of Breast Milk

Say what? The more milk the better right? Not right. Too much breast milk can cause an overactive let-down, or in other words, a forceful milk ejection (picture a dog trying to drink from the garden hose on full blast). Okay, I know it sounds a bit funny, but it’s not when your breasts are sore and you have an extra spitty and gassy baby. And Ironically, your baby may not be actually getting enough breast milk due to him or her not being able to handle the strong flow. (La Leche League International)

Additional Signs that You are Producing Too Much Breast Milk

  • Your baby may be extra restless and may “gulp, choke, sputter, or cough during feedings at the breast.”
  • Breastfeeding sessions may only last 5-10 minutes and may seem like battles with the baby arching their body back away from the breast.
  • Your breast may act like an uncontrolled sprinkler system and spray out more milk when the baby comes unlatched.
  • The baby’s bowel movements may be “green, watery, or foamy, explosive stools.”– Watch out! 

For the inquiring mind: Why “green, watery, or foamy, explosive stools?” This is due to the baby getting too much lactose from too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. Foremilk comes at the beginning of a breastfeeding session and hindmilk comes towards the end of the feeding and is higher in fat. It is important to know, if a baby is switched from one breast to the other too soon, the baby will get an excess of foremilk but will miss out on the hindmilk. (La Leche League International)

How To Prevent Over Production of Breast Milk?

Your breast milk production works as a “supply and demand” system that is unique to you and your baby (pretty amazing). The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk your body will make. Unfortunately, a mother may become engorged due to listening to advice coming from well-meaning friends or family. Remember this, (screen shot it, print it, whatever you have to do) a mother does not need to nurse a certain number of minutes on each breast and a baby does not need to feed from both breasts for a full feeding. Feed your baby until he or she is satisfied. This is unique to your breast milk supply and your baby.

How To Manage Over Production of Breast Milk?

Mothers with an oversupply of milk can usually produce enough milk from one breast for a full feeding. Try only offering one breast for three-hour increments. For example 6:00am you put your baby to the right breast to feed and do not offer the left breast until 9:00am. If your baby acts hungry between 6:00am and 9:00am, only offer the right breast. This technique should help your milk supply decrease to match your baby’s needs and allow your baby to more fully drain your breast to access the hindmilk (La Leche League International)

For a more in depth description about over production of breast milk visit http://www.llli.org/faq/oversupply.html, they have GREAT breastfeeding resources!