We all know a mom who has struggled to make enough breast milk for her child. But, surprisingly, having too much milk can also be a major challenge in the breastfeeding dyad.
Oversupply, or foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, is when the supply and demand function between a mom and her baby get out of sync. The baby eats a certain amount but instead of adjusting to that request, mom continues to refill more and more. The foremilk, or the higher volume, lower fat content milk that comes out first fills the baby’s stomach and keeps them from nursing to the end of the feeding when they would be able to access the fattier hind milk. This can cause painful gas and bloating in the baby and discomfort for the mom who never gets “empty” and may develop plugged ducts or mastitis.
Many pediatricians are quick to suggest food elimination diets for mothers or reflux medications for babies when stomach upset presents in an infant but this lactation consultant estimates that as many as 95% of very fussy babies suffer GI distress due to oversupply rather than “colic,” allergies or reflux.
Here are some simple steps to take to gently inhibit milk supply:
Block feeding: Just as moms with low supply can benefit from feeding frequently, moms with oversupply can benefit from spreading feedings out. Nursing only one side at a time or twice in a row on one side before switching can help send the message to the breasts to slow down production.
Nursing lying down: Babies who are drowning in milk can be relieved of the extra force from gravity by nursing in a side lying position instead of cross-cradle. When they feel less overwhelmed, sometimes they feel comfortable nursing longer, which
Peppermint tea: A simple ginger mint tea is delicious and both herbs are stomach soothers, which will get to baby through mom’s milk. Peppermint is alight lactation suppressor and in small doses can help to keep oversupply at bay. In the warm summer months this is a perfect tea to enjoy iced.
Warning: Anyone considering attempting to alter their milk supply should talk with a doctor or licensed lactation consultant first. LLL and Kellymom are great online resources for all nursing women and their support staff.
Writer Emma Summer is a doula, lactation educator and mom. She blogs daily on breastfeeding, weaning, natural health, other parenting topics and recipes at Your Fonder Heart. She would love to hear your birth story.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.