How can I reduce my milk supply?
There will be times when you simply have too much milk. Some days you’ll feel as though your breasts are going to explode. On other days you feel fine, but your baby is choking and spitting up at the breast due to fast-flowing or overactive milk ejection reflex. Either way, you can use these suggestions to slow the flow as well as reduce your milk supply.
When you are about to start a milk supply reduction program, be sure your baby has gained the appropriate amount of weight (approximately 4-7 ounces per week from week 2 forward, or at least ½ to 1 ounce of weight per day). Some physicians say your baby should gain 1-2 pounds per month after the first 6 to 8 week period. Cutting back on your milk supply in the early weeks of life may jeopardize the potential supply you will need for your baby as they grow. If you are nursing a second or third infant, you’ve had an adequate milk supply and you feel the baby is eating well, gaining weight, growing and thriving, then you can follow a plan to decrease your supply.
Start by nursing on only one breast per feeding:
- That means breastfeed on one breast for 15-20 minutes, and then stop, burp your baby and see if the baby wants to re-latch. If so, go back to the same breast to complete the feeding. At the next feeding time, offer the breast that you left alone during the last session.
If you feel too full, uncomfortable, or you’re leaking:
- Try pumping for about 7-10 minutes and then stop. Apply ice on that breast for about 5 minutes.
- Try to alternate each feeding with this method for a couple of days. The less you pump the opposite breast, the quicker you’ll see results. If you can, try pumping for fewer minutes each day. For example:
- Follow your pumping by applying ice to your breast. If you are not able to slow the production down to a reasonable and comfortable flow, you may have to try another method of milk supply reduction. One such plan is known as Cabbage Leaf Therapy.
Try different nursing positions:
- You may find that your baby will tolerate a fast flow better when they’re in the side-lying nursing position, or a high cradle-hold position.
- Some babies and moms like the Laid Back Hold, which allows your baby to lie on your tummy with their face towards the breast and the body and legs towards your thigh area. Your baby can breathe freely in this position, and will get less milk spray and choking.
Taking in less fluid during the day is an important part of reducing your milk production. Drink only to satisfy your thirst while you follow this plan. Eat healthy nutritious snacks and meals, and stay away from products such as Mother’s Milk Teas and Brewer’s Yeast which are known to be galactogogues (milk production nutrients).
Milk supply issues can usually be resolved within three to six days when you follow a plan consistently. In most cases, the flow will start to slow down when the milk supply is reduced and fullness is minimized. If at anytime you feel your baby is not getting enough volume, then return to two sided nursing with each feeding. This should ensure the proper and adequate amount of milk is available for the baby.
Trying to slow the flow and reduce your milk supply? Become a member and reach out to one of the lactation consultants on our team for more personalized guidance.