Mae West famously said that “too much of a good thing is wonderful”
Is it actually possible to have too much of a good thing though? I used to think like Mae – if something is good, then having too much of it would be impossible. I’ve since learned that you can indeed have too much of a good thing.
Those brownies? You can definitely overeat on brownies.
Life giving water? Think about floods.
The all-nourishing mother’s milk? Believe it or not you can have too much of that too.
Milk oversupply is a problem that can be uncomfortable for you, unfortunate for your clothes, and miserable for your baby. But what causes oversupply?
1 Pumping can cause oversupply
Pumping is one of the big culprits when it comes to producing too much milk. We tend to pump more than a baby would eat in a nursing session. I’m totally guilty here. It’s just so tempting to try to top off the bottle or reach a certain number of ounces.
If your baby typically eats only 4 ounces, and you manage to pump 6 ounces from each side, you’ve tripled your output. Believe me, your mammaries will notice. That’s going to signal to your body that little one’s appetite has picked up, which will cause you to make more.
If you’ve already got too much milk and it’s proving a problem for you and your baby, you might think it makes sense to pump off the extra before nursing. Doing this will actually hurt you in the long run! It will keep you in the cycle of overproduction since you’re still pumping more than your baby eats.
Your boobs don’t know the difference between nursing and pumping. They just know that a lot of milk is being taken from them, so they’re going to keep making a lot.
2 Feeding tactics will affect your supply
You may have been told that the way to breastfeed is “6 minutes on each side” or “10 minutes on each side.” You may have been told that you must feed from both breasts at each feeding, and feed for at least 15 minutes total.
Not only are these guidelines restrictive, but they can easily thrust you right into the world of oversupply.
A better approach is to feed from one side until he’s finished, then offer the other breast. At the next feeding, start with the opposite side and feed fully. Then see if he wants the first side again. This will help ensure baby gets a good balance of foremilk and hindmilk and will help to regulate your supply.
3 Maybe it’s just you…
If you’re overly-blessed when it comes to breastmilk, it may not be anything you’ve done or eaten. It could just be the way your body functions, with causing factors being either hormones or genetics.
Some women are tall, some women are short, and some women make a lot of milk.
If this is you, please know that you do have options to reduce your milk supply or donate your excess milk. You don’t have to suffer. Definitely start by contacting a lactation consultant so you’ll have professional help handling this “blessing.”
Milk oversupply can be a pain. Literally. Sometimes it’s nothing you’ve done, it’s just your glorious body being over-fruitful; and sometimes actions like pumping or regimented feeding tactics an lead to an overabundance. Now that you know what causes it, you can be sure you don’t cause your own problem and shoot yourself in the….well, the boob.
Have you ever suffered from oversupply? What did you do to cope? How did you get control of your milk supply? Please share in the comments!