What’s worse: too much or too little? When it comes to breastfeeding, that’s a tough question to answer.
The repercussions of having too little are obvious. The effects of too much are less obvious, but no less awful.
Here are seven signs you might have an oversupply of breast milk:
1 Very leaky breasts
When you have too much milk, your boobs start looking for an excuse to relieve themselves. They leak in the shower, and sometimes while you sleep. It’s not unusual for leaks to happen in public when you hear a baby cry – and other times for no apparent reason at all.
These things happen a lot in the first couple of months, when your body is trying to regulate your milk supply.
If you’ve been nursing for a while and still have these issues a lot, chances are good that you’re making too much milk.
2 Spraying milk during feedings
It’s totally normal to occasionally shower your baby’s face with milk if he suddenly pulls away during a feeding. It’s not totally normal to do it all the time.
If your baby gets sprayed in the face at most feedings, you’ve probably got too much milk to give.
The single worst part of breastfeeding is engorgement! At first, it’s kinda nice. Your breasts get firm, they even look like they lifted up a bit. It’s like a quick boob job.
Then it gets ugly. They go from firm to uncomfortable. Then from uncomfortable to achy. Finally they begin to throb painfully.
Before you know it you’re looking for a baby – any baby – to unload some milk to!
4 Baby chokes while nursing
Newborns are completely unpracticed in the art of feeding, so it’s not surprising that babies choke up on milk every now and then. If your little one is choking often, you’re sending out too much milk at once.
A good way to combat this is by laying babykins belly-down on your chest to nurse while you either recline or lay completely down. In this position, gravity works against your milk and keeps too much from coming out at once.
This will do nothing for your milk supply. It simply keeps your baby from choking by making your milk flow easier for her to handle.
5 Fussy Baby
No one likes dealing with a fussy baby. It’s so hard to figure out why they’re fussing, and while you’re trying to think clearly she just keeps wailing.
I’m sure it’s no fun for the baby either because she has no way of telling you what’s bothering her.
Fussiness could be caused by dozens of problems, so please don’t assume you have too much milk based on that alone. But if she’s extra fussy in combination with one or two other symptoms from this list, it makes a really strong case for an oversupply issue.
6 Green, foamy baby poop
When you’re seeing foamy green poop, you can be sure your baby is getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. This is a symptom of oversupply, but could also be due to forceful letdown, or switching back and forth between breasts during each feeding.
If you’ve been switching back and forth during feedings, stop. Your baby most likely isn’t getting enough hindmilk, which is where she gets the bulk of her nutrition. Nurse fully on one side until your baby is finished, then offer her the other breast. At each feeding, start with the breast you finished with last time.
If you haven’t been switching back and forth, change your nursing position so you’re laying on your back or reclining and baby is laying belly-down on your chest. Gravity will slow your milk flow and prevent too much foremilk from coming out before the hindmilk kicks in.
If your baby’s poop is still green and foamy after a couple of days, or if your baby starts to lose weight, call your pediatrician immediately.
7 Baby has weight problems
It seems a no-brainer that if you have an oversupply of milk, your baby will be fat. That’s not always the case.
Sometimes babies with too much milk at their disposal will make a valiant effort to drink it all and they end up getting quite fat.
Other times, babies whose mothers have an oversupply end up losing weight. This is due to the baby filling up on less nutritious foremilk and getting very little of the fatty, nutrient dense hindmilk.
Whether your baby is overweight or underweight, you should be discussing any weight issues with your pediatrician.
If you’re experiencing engorged or leaky breasts, if your baby is getting sprayed or choked up during feedings, or if baby is fussy and experiencing either weight issues or foamy green poo, then you know you’ve got a milk oversupply issue. Now that you know what you’re dealing with, you may be able to figure out what caused it and how to fix it. Or at the very least, how to cope with an overabundance.
Most of these symptoms aren’t emergencies, but always call your pediatrician if you think your baby is in distress, if her poop is abnormal for more than a couple of days, or if she starts to lose weight.
Have you ever experienced an overproduction of milk? What tipped you off that oversupply was your problem? Please tell us in the comments!