Breastfeeding – Dealing with oversupply!

I know I often hear mums talk about how their milk has dried up, or they don’t have enough and they need to supplement. But in the early days I had the opposite problem. I had oversupply. Now I know that might sound like every breastfeeding Mums dream but it was actually pretty awkward.

I remember on the second night in hospital my nipples were just so agonisingly painful I begged the midwife to let me express some and syringe it to little man. She sat with me and was gobsmacked at how much and how fast I expressed 10mls of colostrum, even little man couldn’t take it all. And that was just the start. Because my colostrum was so rich he wouldn’t feed that often as it was filling him up which was sending me into a panic that he would get low blood sugars and get sleepy and we’d hit that cycle! However the feeding assistant in hospital (who was also my babysitter when I was a little girl, small world) assured me a number of times that I just had very rich and good colostrum and I didn’t need to worry!

When my milk came in I was flooded. Literally.

If I was feeding him off one side the other side would manage to fill a whole breast shell.

I could express a full bottle within 15 minutes.

I remember we were struggling with his latch and the midwife came on a home visit and I asked for some help. She took one look at my Pamela Anderson rock hard chest and told me that was the problem. I was too hard that he couldn’t latch on. So she told me to express some off so that the breasts were softer, and that was what I had to do for the first few months, express some off before feeds. That wasn’t always easy when I had a screaming baby who wanted his milk!

I can remember getting through breast pads by the hour, my boobs literally did not stop leaking. I would go out and end up with huge patches on my chest. The smell of milk was just a constant thing! If I had a shower when I got out I’d be dripping that precious milk everywhere!

Pumping was my saving grace and really helped to make sure we could feed. At times we ended up with freezer draws full of milk, some of which we never used. I didn’t have a need to give it to little man in a bottle, it was just a necessity. I had an amazing Medela Swing pump which was really good and massively comfortable. I also tried a hand pump for desperate situations, I remember going on a night out and having to use it half way through the night! But I found it a huge faff and my hands hurt quickly.

I know some people view oversupply as being lucky … and maybe it was … but at times it was a big problem and could be hugely embarrassing if you ended up with a leak in public!

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20 thoughts on “Breastfeeding – Dealing with oversupply!

  1. Find the right pump for you! I was fine with a hand pump but know that friends have never got on with them.
    I had forceful let down so also had to pump for the first few months so that Baby A didn’t choke at the beginning of a feed.

  2. Pingback: Going for gold – pumping breastmilk at the Olympics: #KBBFSH Day 5

  3. OMG…I had the same problem. I had so much overflow that I had NON-STOP breast infections for three months straight. One breast then the other. My son was early and was in the NICU for two weeks and when he came home he would NOT breast feed and was allergic to dairy. I pumped and was so sick and unhappy. I had to stop and of course with overflowing and leaking boobs the pain of stopping was HORRENDOUS…no remedy worked to relieve the pain. After two months of stopping I finally felt like myself again. So I feel your pain.

  4. I can so relate to this blog! I have a constant over supply and I’m winding my way through many brands of breast pads to see which ones keep me the driest. We also struggled with thrush for a long time so my milk went to waste for a while when I could have been building up a great stock early on. I was crying pouring it down the sink- alas I still have plenty.
    I’m so greatful for a growth spurt at the moment as I’ve felt much more comfortable today however I prefer the manual pumps as my breast are so sore i have to do it so slowly until I let down.
    P.s. I was told a mars bar before bed helps reduce the supply for the morning (I’ve done it for the past three night) it hasn’t reduced my supply but it has made me a little more comfortable in the morning. I think its mainly an excuse for a mars bar before bed :-)

  5. To help get let down pump in quick short sharp bursts and then once get LD slow it down to fuller longer pumps amd massage breasts to empty properly- I epd for dd for 21mths

  6. I know exactly what you mean – I’ve had the same problem with both my little ones. End up pumping off two full bottles in 15 minutes then still having enough for a full feed, with only a short while before the rock boobs return. With Bubby D I looked into milk donation but I was too late starting the process. If I have another it’s definitely something I’d like to do!

  7. I am having the same problem now and it really puts me off feeding her in public. At home I strip us both off so we don’t get our clothes wet and I use a nipple shell on the other breast, which I have to empty several times while she’s feeding. Yesterday I had to feed her while out walking and it just felt uncomfortable to faff about with the shell but I wish I had as I ended up with a huge milk stain all down the front of my top which I had to cover with a blanket. My little one is 4 wks old now please tell me it gets better , any tips on how to cope with it would be great too!

  8. Just be comfortable. I have a hand pump but it does hurt my hands so can take a long time . Have looked at electric pumps but Izzy refuses a bottle point blank so is a vicious circle.

  9. I loved the Medela pump the first time around. It’s now been to Australia to be used m
    By my sister, back home for my sister in law & it’s back in my wardrobe waiting for this baby to come out. I’m going to be using it from 37 weeks to hopefully get labour started early!

  10. I haven’t had to deal with oversupply and always struggled to express so my pumping tip is to remember that breastfeeding is a multi sensory experience, so try to stimulate the senses as much as possible to help with let down, look at a picture of baby, sniff something that smells of baby, imitate the way baby strokes and touches you. This should help the milk flow :)

  11. My cousin pumped exclusively for 8 months (baby couldn’t latch) and had mastitis 3 times! She kept going as she wanted to give her baby the best :)

  12. I find it best to pump in the mornings, i am trying to build up a supply for when i wean my baby so i can use it to make baby food :)

  13. But pumping increases oversupply. It’s important to only express just enough for them to latch (using the breast sandwich technique if necessary), not lots, otherwise you perpetuate the cycle. Cabbage leaves might help relieve engorgement without pumping. And keeping them skin-to-skin to encourage them to feed little and often (which is how humans naturally would feed anyway, not every few hours) should help too.

  14. with pumping.. it just needs to be managed. I think Im in a different situation to most people. My little man is tube fed due to health issues and Ive been expressing for him for nearly 6 months now.. I tend to pump just before I feed him (we have a routine) and it works well. Recently cut out his 3am feed which leaves me with rocks in the morning but I look in my freezer and I think back to the beginning when I was stressing at not having enough, that was when he was on 60ml every 3 hours.. hes now on 180ml 5 times a day and its all going well :D So just keep at it.. its so important for our little ones

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