Sometimes a mother produces more milk than her baby needs and this can result in a foreceful ejection of milk from her overfull breast. This can be upsetting for babies during and between feedings. Typical symptoms of oversupply include:
- “Baby cries a lot, and is often very irritable and/or restless
- Baby may sometimes gulp, choke, sputter, or cough during feedings at breast
- Baby may seem to bite or clamp down on the nipple while feeding
- Milk sprays when baby comes off, especially at the beginning of a feeding
- Mother may have sore nipples
- Baby may arch and hold himself very stiffly, sometimes screaming
- Feedings often seem like battles, with baby nursing fitfully on and off
- Feedings may be short, lasting only 5 or 10 minutes total
- Baby may seem to have a "love-hate" relationship with the breast
- Baby may burp or pass gas frequently between feedings, tending to spit up a lot
- Baby may have green, watery or foamy, explosive stools
- Mother's breasts feel very full most of the time
- Mother may have frequent plugged ducts, which can sometimes lead to mastitis”
Source: La Leche League International, http://www.llli.org/faq/oversupply.html
To address this problem, try:
- Nursing your baby on only one breast per feeding. If needed, you can express the other breast to relieve pressure and freeze the excess milk for later. If your baby wants to nurse again within two hours, offer the same breast again.
- Expressing some milk before you start nursing to reduce the rate of milk ejection. Do not express too much as that will tell your breasts to produce more milk.
- Positioning your baby more upright during nursing and/or reclining yourself so that gravity helps slow the rate of milk ejection. The side-lying position is also good.
- Feeding your baby before he is too hungry, which means he will not suck as hard which will not stimulate your breasts as much.
- Stopping pumping, if you have been doing so to store milk, until your milk supply better matches your baby's current needs.
If you are producing a lot of milk you can use breastpads to catch leaks, but remember to change them at least daily. Also, your baby will likely swallow more air, so frequently burp your baby to minimize the problem.