From the outside looking in, people may think, “Wow oversupply?! That is awesome! You never have to worry about not having enough milk” or “How lucky you are to have more than enough milk for your baby, I barely am able to keep up”. Having an oversupply is not always a good thing, it can cause many issues and potentially can lead to an early end to a breastfeeding relationship.
What is oversupply??
Your body is producing more milk than your baby needs. Oversupply can lead to problems for your baby and for YOU!
My experience with oversupply
It all started with the twins. I had a goal before they were born to nurse them for a year. Due to many challenges with nursing and the demanding schedule of 2 babies, we barely made it to 6 weeks before I threw in the towel with nursing and exclusively pumped for a year instead. My hormones and supply regulated as time went on, and I was able to produce enough milk to feed both of the twins (which is still amazing to me – our bodies do incredible things!!)
Fast forward a little over 2 years later and baby #3 was here! This time I was going to give the nursing thing a try again since round 1 was a no go. More often than not mothers of 2+ babies will say that their milk comes in quicker and with more volume with each subsequent baby. Well that was definitely the case for me! My body only knew how to make milk for two babies so it was in overdrive from the start. Once my milk came in, I immediately started using a haakaa (see Kate’s blog post on how + why to use a haakaa) to collect my letdown on the opposite side of where I was nursing. I was soaking my bra, shirt and everything around me when I would nurse. I always felt full and I would refill quickly after feeding. While I never got a clogged duct or mastitis, I had to always be vigilant about checking for lumps (see Kate’s blog post on blocked ducts + mastitis). Have you seen our engorgement reel on Instagram? Check it out!
There were times when Hudson would get fussy, pull off, would choke and cough because my letdown was forceful and had high volume. The first few weeks he would be so gassy and cranky after feeds, which made me think he had reflux, but really this irritation was a result of my oversupply. There were some feeds that were so unpleasant for the both of us. With the twins I got some bad advice from a lactation specialist to pump after almost every feed – I got burned out. This time I decided I was not going to use my electric pump unless I was going to replace a feed, and especially after I realized I had an oversupply. I NEVER pumped until I went back to work! I was doing everything I knew how to not over stimulate my breasts. After a few months of interventions my body further started to regulate and I got control over my oversupply. Our nursing journey lasted until 13 months, thankfully, without any clogged ducts or mastitis!!
6 signs of oversupply
- Recurrent blocked ducts/mastitis
- Never feeling empty after a feeding/pumping session
- Refilling quickly after emptying breasts
- Fussiness during feedings, difficulty latching due to engorged breasts
- Coughing/choking during feedings
- Excessive gassiness and spit up
How to manage oversupply
The simple answer – decrease stimulation at the breast/chest to decrease production (not always that easy!) It can be a slow and tedious process to wean enough to control your production but not too much where you aren’t making enough.
Need more help?
Schedule a text or video chat consult with Natalie, Lauren or Kate (NICU RNs) for one-on-one help!
Natalie’s top 5 favorite oversupply essentials
- Haakaa – we all LOVE the Haakaa for catching the leftover milk on the opposite breast that you’re pumping or breastfeeding from
- LaVie warming massager (use code. BUMBLEBABY for discount) – used to help reduce and relief blocked ducts and engorgement (also helps stimulate a quicker letdown during nursing or pumping!)
- Sunflower lecithin -supplement that improves your milk flow (helps with clogged ducts or mastitis)
- Breast therapy packs – these can be used to heart or cool engorged and uncomfortable breasts due to oversupply. They can also be used to help with blocked ducts or mastitis too!
- Hydrogel pads – soothes sore and broken down nipples. Throw in the refrigerator for extra relief!
Other helpful blog posts:
- My journey to formula
- 5 common nipple issues
- 5 signs it’s time to wean from breastfeeding or pumping
- How to supplement with formula
- All about nipple shields
- Why you should use a Haakaa and how to do it properly
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider. Bumblebaby makes a small commission on some of the items listed above