Breastfeeding can be nerve-racking, especially if you're new to the overall experience. So many new moms worry about not having enough milk or having issues latching or not being able to breastfeed at all. I definitely had all of those fears when I started breastfeeding my daughter, but it never hit me that oversupply would end up being my main issue. Turns out, having "too much" milk can be a thing, and I spent the majority of my time bombarded by he things every breastfeeding mother thinks when she realizes she has oversupply. Who would have thought, right? I'm telling you, motherhood is weird and, sometimes, breastfeeding can make it even weirder.
Oversupply isn't as commonly discussed as other, potential, breastfeeding problems, probably because many mothers hesitate to call it a "problem." I mean, when is too much milk for your baby a bad thing? I learned the hard way, though, that it can be a real issue. Oversupply can be the reason you're constantly soaking through your shirts or experiencing breast pain or even stomach pain. It can be the reason your child has trouble eating, because milk is being sprayed too forcefully into their tiny little mouths and it causes them to choke or sputter. Oversupply is so much more than just "too much milk," and it can leave you with some, well, interesting thoughts, to say the least.
Just like with any new experience and regardless of how breastfeeding goes for you, personally, you'll undoubtably have thoughts and feelings about this entire process and those thoughts and feelings will certainly overlap and juxtapose and make all the sense and very little sense. Due to oversupply, I freaked out the first time I breastfed and then started getting excited because breast pumps are a thing and they're wonderful. Every woman is different and every breastfeeding experience is valid, but here are a few things I imagine every woman with oversupply thinks while she breastfeeds:
Oversupply can be ridiculously painful. When you have so much milk, it can feel like your breasts never really "empty" and let down hurts. You can get frequently clogged milk ducts, because there's so much milk and (often times) it has nowhere to go. Your nipples can end up being extremely soar on a regular basis. I'm telling you, this is no picnic, you guys.
"Is This Normal?"
Even though I knew I had more than enough milk to feed my baby, there were moments when nothing would come out. Like, nothing at all. Sometimes it wasn't because I was plugged, but because I only had so much space for the milk to go and having a pump or baby's mouth latch on requires room, too, for sucking and pulling. If you don't have that extra space necessary for the sucking and pulling, it will inevitably be more difficult for the milk to come out, and it usually ends up being a very painful experience.
"Wait, Is My Baby Still Getting Enough Milk?"
You would think you wouldn't worry about your baby getting enough nutrients when you have oversupply, but it turns out that the force with which your milk comes out of your breasts can keep your baby from getting the amount they need. Babies can get irritable and restless and not stay latched and choke and sputter and gulp and, well, you may end up feeling like you're constantly feeding because, when you do, they can only handle the experience for a short amount of time.
"Is This Mastitis? Please Tell Me This Isn't Mastitis."
Figuring and/or finding out that I had Mastitis was something I feared whenever I would wake up in the middle of the night to feed my daughter. Mastitis is a breast infection that usually happens when the tissues inside a breast become inflamed either from clogged milk ducts or from germs entering the breast through cracks in the nipple. It's also a pretty common side effect of oversupply, and one I was deathly afraid of, to the point that I was more than fine with hooking myself up to a pump, resting, eating well and taking care of myself (all ways you can avoid mastitis).
"Please Don't Leak. Please Don't Leak. Please Don't Leak."
Personally, and thankfully, I never leaked in public and hardly ever did during the day. I, unfortunately, can't say the same thing about during the night. I would gain a huge supply overnight (even though my daughter was waking up to eat every 2 hours) that would leave me waking up in the morning completely full and leaky and covered in breast milk which, you know, is an odd "look."
"Where Are We Going To Put All Of This Milk?"
Praise be to the wonderful human being who invented the fridge and the freezer. I can't tell you how thankful I am that I was able to pump and store (and even freeze) my breast milk. Of course, finding a place to put it all was an issue, but one I didn't mind navigating. (And it's worth mentioning that you can always donate your breast milk too, which is a wonderful way to support the moms who can't breastfeed for whatever reason.)
"Yay! Now My Partner Can Do Some Feeding, Too!"
While oversupply can be the absolute pits and being attached to a breast pump all day is kind of the worst, it does grant you the ability to have someone else feed your babe. Whether it's your partner or a co-parent or a family friend or a kind neighbor, all that pumped milk does afford you the ability to hand your kid off to someone else and let them do the work while you get some much deserved rest or have a wonderful (which will help you avoid mastitis).
"Is This Milk Going To Stop Coming Out, Or Is This My Forever Now?"
It can make you feel guilty and maybe even ungrateful, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting your supply to just slow down. There are a few ways to help slow down supply that can assist you in regulating it in a way that more aligns with what your baby needs and wants. And, again, you can always donate your extra breast milk, if you feel so inclined.
"Um, My Boobs Are Huge And I Don't Like It"
It's amazing how the body changes when you're pregnant, and those changes don't end once your pregnancy does. If you choose to and are able to breastfeed, your boobs will grow to accommodate your baby's need for nutrients. If you end up suffering from oversupply, well, even larger boobs will be your reality. IT's overrated you guys. So. Over. Rated.
"Yeah, This is Worth It"
If you're anything like me, you want your baby to be able to drink your breast milk as long as possible. While oversupply was difficult and presented a slew of problems I didn't even remotely prepare for, I was still grateful that I could, in fact, breastfeed. Holding my daughter and sustaining her with my body, was worth the leaking and the pain and the constant pumping. Opening the fridge or the freezer and seeing my daughter's breakfast and lunch and dinner and late night meals, made it all worth it. Knowing that I could give her something that no one else could was, you guessed it, worth it.