I didn’t have oversupply with my first baby, but oh man did I have it with my second. It took about six weeks after his birth for my body to adjust, and for the two of us to get into a breastfeeding groove. Before that point, nursing him was stressful, and I couldn't take a break from that feeling since he nursed every two to three hours. To make matters worse, I suffered through some embarrassing moments having to do with my oversupply. Apparently the exhaustion, anxiety, and fears that come with new motherhood just weren't enough.
During that time, oversupply ruled my life. I hated leaving the house, because I had to prepare for the wayward spray of milk if I was going to nurse him. Dealing with oversupply meant that I needed more space to breastfeed, since I would invariably create a wet spot or have to re-position my baby to make sure he didn’t get smacked in the face with a stream of milk. It took so much effort just to feed my son and not make a mess of it.
I know I should never, ever feel embarrassed about anything I do to provide nourishment for my baby, but there were just some moments about having oversupply that were awkward, and even humiliating. Still, I’m glad I powered through them. Plus, those six weeks of contending with an overabundance of milk were nothing in the grand scheme of my mostly positive experience breastfeeding my son for his first two years, even when I found myself in moments like these:
The Geyser Effect
After the eruption, comes the inevitable flood. I remember little rivers of milk streaming down my baby’s cheeks, pooling between his face and the nursing pillow. Oversupply can be merciless; you aren’t always able to catch the abundance of milk as it gushes from your body. On one hand, it made me feel pretty powerful. Breastfeeding is a superpower, after all. On the other hand, it just made me feel messy. And wet.
The greater the supply, the greater the chance you have of it leaking out. Nursing pads helped, but I was nervous to leave the house without my baby when I hadn’t stuck several absorbent layers inside my nursing bra, for fear of wet circles starting to appear on my shirt.
My son reacted like he was dying when my forceful letdown shot into his mouth while breastfeeding. I got used to it, and would quickly pull him off me until my flow slowed down. But to anyone witnessing this baby choking on his mother’s milk, it must have looked like I was trying to kill him. I might have scarred a few people for life when they saw this scene play out, but luckily, my kid has no memory of it.
With the geyser effect, the flooding, and the sputtering, my baby had little chance of staying dry. I would drape him with burp clothes and towels when we would settle into a nursing session, but that was only possible if we were home. And even then, he still got soaked. Thankfully, enough of it got into his mouth and that’s what counts.
Hopefully the couch is mine and not yours. When I had oversupply, I was hesitant to leave my home to nurse. It was likely there would be spillage with the force of the milk shooting out, and not all of it able to make it into my baby’s mouth. I mean, I wasn’t friends with anyone who covered their furniture in protective plastic. We had a lot of damp seating in our living room in those early weeks of my son’s life.
Emergency Towel Requests
“Can you grab a few towels so I can deal with all this extra breast milk shooting out me?” does not exactly roll off the tongue. Even if my need for assistance trumps my humility in asking that question, I might be making the other person feel uncomfortable. Like, if they don’t have firsthand breastfeeding experience, things can get weird, especially if you then try to continue carrying on a normal conversation while they’re pretending not to watch you wipe down your boobs.
Feeling Awkward About Asking For Help
I didn’t always feel breezy about enlisting a friend or family member to hold my milk-covered baby while I ran to fetch changes of clothes for everybody. However, I shouldn’t feel ashamed for having oversupply, or admitting that I needed help dealing with it. I was only trying to feed my baby as best I could, and the more help I got, the more success he and I would have.
Using My Shirt Like A Sponge
When there was nothing else, I had to resort to using my own clothes to soak up the milk spilling as a result of my oversupply. If someone was around, I tried to play it cool, but honestly, I was mortified that I had to mop up my bodily fluids with my shirt. I was especially annoyed if I was forced to use my beloved U2 concert shirt.
Lack Of A Back-Up Shirt
Look, I had birthed two babies by the time I was experiencing oversupply, so I wasn’t that embarrassed if I had to go around with a wet shirt after using it like a sponge to clean up the spilled milk. There is no use crying about that stuff, or so I’ve been told.