How do I handle an overflowing bounty of breast milk?
During the early days of nursing, milk supply is being established and for most women, there seems to be just enough milk for the baby and not much excess for pumping and storing. However, there are some women who start out early on with a very full milk supply.
An oversupply of breast milk generally refers to a mother who is able to nurse her infant, or multiples, and is still able to produce a significant amount of breast milk (more than 4-5 oz) in a pump session after a feeding.
Additionally, these mothers often complain of leaking from the breasts throughout the day and evening, breast fullness and some discomfort from breast swelling.
Moms who have an oversupply of milk often have infants who:
- Gain more than 1 ounce of weight per day.
- Gain a significant amount of weight at week 2 and week 4.
- Spit up during feedings, often with large amounts of fluid.
- Demonstrate Gastric Reflux (GERD) symptoms.
- Are gassy, fussy and bloated until they pass gas or have a bowel movement.
- Nurse for 5 minutes or less on one or both breasts for a complete feeding.
- Act like they are not interested in nursing, but fill up very quickly when they do nurse.
An oversupply of breast milk is not to be confused with Over-Active Milk Ejection Reflex (OMER), a different breastfeeding issue that often appears to have similar symptoms.
There are a few different treatment plans to help mothers who are experiencing an oversupply of breast milk. Some approaches work quickly, while others will take up to 1-2 weeks to reduce the milk supply. Every mom and baby responds differently. You may need to try a couple of solutions to fully resolve the concern.
Treatment Plan Options for Reducing Milk Supply:
- Single sided nursing will cause a reduction in your supply since you’ll be removing less milk by offering only one breast per feeding.
- Shortening the amount of time baby nurses on each breast will also reduce the supply by creating less milk removal and therefore less milk production.
- Wearing a tightly-fitting bra will reduce the available blood flow to the breast tissue which can result in lowering milk production. However, you must be careful to watch for any signs of plugged ducts or symptoms of a breast infection.
- Using a frozen cabbage leaf treatment plan will reduce the available fluid to the breast tissue and reduce potential supply. You can also use Cabo-Cream instead of real cabbage leaves for a similar effect.
- Milk reducing herbal supplements such as sage, parsley and peppermint will also have an impact on your supply. You can consume the leaves naturally, steamed in hot tea or in pre-made teas with these types of herbs.
If you are going to use of these solutions to deal with an oversupply of breast milk, we recommend that you first speak with a lactation consultant to ensure that you do not reduce your supply too much. Over-reducing milk supply can create other breastfeeding challenges in the future as your baby grows and needs more milk each day. Weekly infant weight checks are a good way to ensure you continue to produce plenty of milk for your baby.
Has oversupply of breast milk been an issue for you? Reach out to a lactation consultant on our team for safe, personalized support.