Can I Pump If I Have An Oversupply? It Might Send Your Body Mixed Messages

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Many moms worry that they won't produce enough milk for their baby, so the thought of making too much milk seems more like a blessing than a curse. Although it's not the worst problem in the world, having an oversupply of breast milk can be uncomfortable for mom and make it difficult for her baby to nurse. If you're struggling with an oversupply, asking "Can I pump if I have an oversupply?" is probably the top question on your mind. After all, wanting to relieve some of the pressure and engorgement with the help of your breast pump makes sense. But is it really the best idea for your supply?

Using a breast pump to manage your supply is a normal and recommended way to remove breast milk from your breasts and save it for later use. If you have an oversupply, however, pumping on top of your normal feeding schedule may make the problem worse.

According to La Leche League International (LLLI), women who use a breast pump before nursing or in between breastfeeding sessions often exacerbate the problem without even realizing it. Since your body produces breast milk in a "supply and demand" manner, removing more milk from your body automatically signals your body to replace it. If you make a habit of pumping large amounts of milk on top of your normal feeding schedule, LLLI noted that you're unknowingly opening the door to potential chronic problems, even though it may relieve temporary discomfort.

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But just because you have an over supply doesn't mean you can't use a breast pump under any circumstances. Breastfeeding Basics cautioned moms against pumping frequently, but noted that pumping or hand expressing small amounts to relieve pressure won't impact your supply significantly. The danger lies in pumping large quantities or adding pumping sessions to get rid of "extra" milk.

Similarly, moms who exclusively pump can obviously use their breast pump to manage their milk supply, but should be wary of pumping too much or too often and sending their body signals to produce even more.

In short, although there aren't any hard and fast rules about oversupply and breast pumps, moms who already make more milk than they need should be careful about any extra stimulation.