Oversupply

Overview and Symptoms

Overfull breasts and a fast milk flow may cause discomfort for both mother and baby.  Some mothers naturally have a generous milk supply while others may have unintentionally increased their milk supply with extra pumping.  This is not something to worry about unless your baby is unhappy or you are having difficulties such as recurrent engorgement, plugged ducts or mastitis.

Infant signs of an oversupply include:

  • Your child frequently cries or he or she is fussy, irritable or restless
  • Your child gulps and chokes during breastfeeding
  • Your child clamps down on the nipple while feeding to control the rapid flow
  • Your child nurses fussily on and off or breastfeeding seems like a battle
  • Your child has explosive green, watery or foamy stools

It is important to realize that signs of oversupply overlap with many other conditions including allergies and reflux.  If you baby is fussy, it is important to consider an evaluation by your baby’s provider to determine the cause.

  1. What Are the Initial Steps I Can Do to Help With Oversupply?
    • Change positions. Nursing your baby in a more upright position, or breastfeed leaning backward or laying down all help to slow a rapid, strong let down of milk by changing the impact of gravity.
    • Follow your baby’s cues for breaks. If they latch off, let them take a break. Allow the let down to pass, burp your baby and reposition if needed.
    • During the initial let down when your baby is fussy or choking, let them latch off and allow the milk to spray out into a pad or burp cloth. After the flow decreases let them re-latch and feed more comfortably.
    • For comfort, express just enough milk if needed. Over the following days you can gradually express less as your body starts to decrease milk production.
  2. What Else Can I Do?
    There are additional approaches that help decrease oversupply.  Depending on your situation, however, one approach may be more appropriate than another.  While decreasing your supply, is it important that you are followed and monitored for plug ducts and mastitis and that your baby’s weight is monitored.  If basic steps to help with oversupply are unsuccessful, we suggest you schedule an appointment for further evaluation.