It’s World Breastfeeding week!
Yesterday we talked about not having enough milk, today I want to discuss when you have too much milk.
This is a common problem early in the breastfeeding journey when your body is figuring out how much milk this new baby needs. While those with a low milk supply may think this is good thing to have it can still cause problems. Baby may choke on a high flow of milk, or swallow lots of air trying to keep up with the fast flow. They may fill up on the more watery foremilk and miss out on the fattier and more filling hindmilk meaning they want to feed more often. It can also cause problems with engorgement and pain, blocked ducts, and mastitis.
Things you can do to help this-
*hand express a small amount of milk at the beginning of the feed to allow the initial forceful letdown to happen before feeding baby.
*do not be tempted to use a breast pump to empty your breasts. Expressing a small amount to reduce the flow or relieve the pain of engorgement is fine, but the rule of breastfeeding is the more you feed or express, the more milk you make (see yesterday’s post with the discussion of hormones), so expressing a lot will mean you continue to have an over abundant supply.
*feed lying down prone with baby on top- it may take some practice to get this position sorted! Gravity will be your friend in this position.
*if baby has been swallowing air pause several times during a feed to burp and remove any air they have swallowed, which will mean less gastric discomfort (or colic) later and allow baby to drink more hind milk
Homeopathic remedies that may reduce and regulate supply:
Bryonia – when there is engorgement with pain, hard and swollen, worse for any movement of the breast
Calc Carb- excess watery milk, breasts may feel hot and swollen but be pale in colour.
Lac Caninum – also used when there is low supply of milk Lac Caninum can regulate and reduce an oversupply. There can be anxiety and low self esteem. There may also be a conflict between the breasts being used to feed a baby or as a pleasurable sexual organ.
Pulsatilla – can be watery, have blocked ducts or flow strongly. Emotionally they can be often close to tears, or moods can be changeable. They are warm and loving but need lots of support. Feel better outside.
Other things to consider
*in the first 6 weeks or so your body is designed to increase milk supply in order to feed your baby, and trying to reduce milk supply in that time is not a good idea. It takes time for your body to learn to regulate supply and in many cases this will resolve itself within 3 months.
*if this high level of supply continues, see your doctor for a check up and blood test to rule out hyperthyroidism.
*cabbage leaves can reduce engorgement and pain. Use them straight from the fridge and change when they start to get warm. This is a double edged sword though, while cabbage leaves reduce engorgement and milk supply you do not want to overuse them.
*if you do choose to pump the excess milk you can freeze it for 3-6 months or donate it – Human milk for Human Babies New Zealand Aotearoa or Mother’s Milk NZ Charitable Trust.
*block feeding can reduce supply, feeding baby from the same breast several feeds in a row, then swap to the other breast. This reduces the nipple stimulation which is what promotes prolactin to produce more breastmilk. It also allows baby to drink more hindmilk in a second and third feeds, filling them for longer. Again, be cautious so as not to overly reduce your supply.