Most breastfeeding moms worry that they won't be able to produce enough milk for their baby. But having more than enough milk? Wouldn't that be the opposite of a problem? Not exactly. Some mothers have what is called an oversupply of breast milk, which actually can make it very difficult to nurse their baby effectively. If you have an oversupply, you know just how painful it can be, both for you and your baby. But what are the reasons you're making too much milk? It's not always an easy problem to solve.
Some of the most common signs of oversupply are your baby choking or sputtering during letdown, pulling away or arching their back during feedings, short sessions and recurring hunger shortly after, and painful engorgement in your breasts, according to Belly Belly.
Although the reasons behind oversupply aren't usually ambiguous or hard to figure out, it can be a fairly tricky problem to correct. According to La Leche League International (LLLI), there are lots of strategies for slowing your milk production, all of which take intentional effort to implement. But, over time, if you're taking steps in the right direction, your body should get the hint and start producing less milk, allowing you and your baby to nurse comfortably. If you notice you suffer from oversupply, here are a few reasons why.
1. You Have An Overactive Letdown Reflex
Overactive letdown is one of the most common reasons for oversupply. According to LLLI, an overactive letdown reflex is often very uncomfortable for babies, making them fussy, unable to eat enough (causing your breasts to feel engorged and overly full from not being emptied).
2. You Have A Foremilk/Hindmilk Imbalance
Although foremilk/hindmilk imbalance is essentially another term for oversupply, according to Breastmilk.com, an oversupply will cause your baby to fill up on foremilk before getting enough of the fatty, nutrient dense hindmilk. They'll likely be hungry again soon, and nursing them again causes your body to produce more milk, continuing the oversupply cycle.
3. Your Body "Overreacts" To The Hormones Making Your Breastmilk
According to Breastfeeding Basics, some mothers bodies "overreact" to the hormones triggered by childbirth and breastfeeding, causing them to simply make more milk than necessary. In cases like these, sometimes things mellow out on their own, or with more effective milk removal.
4. You're Pumping Or Nursing Too Often To Maintain A Healthy Supply
Since undersupply is most mom's main concern, more often than not, mothers will pump after every feeding, or nurse very frequently to increase their supply. However, according to Breastfeeding USA, many mothers don't realize that by doing this, they're actually triggering their bodies to make more and more milk, which may lead to an oversupply, unless low supply was an issue in the first place.
5. Your Baby Only Nurses On One Preferred Side
Some babies have a favorite side to nurse from, which seems cute until you're completely engorged and overproducing on other other side to make up for the imbalance. LLLI suggested nursing your baby on each side whenever you nurse, so that they don't develop a favorite. However, this issue may take a while to correct and it's often not as simple as being sure to use both sides. In some cases, a mother will produce enough for a full feeding on both sides, and LLLI offers amazing advice to mothers for how to gradually slow your milk production.