Some mothers struggle with undersupply — others are pumping just to keep up with a Niagra Falls type flow. Whatever your situation, you want to give your baby the best possible nutrition, and you don't want to overstuff tiny tummies. But can you overfeed a breastfed baby? You work hard to breastfeed — can your baby really get too much milk?
The Milk Meg blog listed half a dozen reasons why overfeeding is basically impossible, and lactation specialists tend to agree. Kristin Gourley, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), of Lactation Link, explains to Romper that babies are very good regulators when it comes to breastfeeding. "They don't get a constant drip of milk or a mouthful of milk after each suck like they do from the bottle, which is the difference when it comes to concerns about overfeeding."
Nevertheless, some moms make a lot of milk, and their babies may continue to suck for the joy of it, even after the tank is full. According to Gourley, if this happens, you'll notice your baby spitting up — sometimes in copious amounts. But don't worry: "If baby is healthy and gaining weight well and generally happy (remember that all babies have periods of fussiness!), this spit up is more of a laundry problem." So stock up on detergent, if you haven't already.
What about weight gain? Breastfed babies can gain "lots and lots" of weight in the first year, explains Gourley, but they'll still have a lower risk of obesity later in life, because of the powerful protective factors of breast milk. Which is really pretty neat, if you think about it.
"The bottom line is to listen to your baby and, if he's healthy and growing, feed him when he asks and stop when he turns away," she writes.
Tania Archbold B.Sc, IBCLC, of Mother's Nectar Lactation Consultant Services, adds that babies who gain weight quickly early in life — even those occupying the 90th percentile — will generally slow down as they become more mobile, after six months or so. She tells Romper that she also wants mothers to know that frequent feeding is common and necessary in the first weeks. So don't be alarmed, even if you feel like you have a real guzzler on your hands. Remember, this is breast milk we're talking about — not sugary Capri Sun. Guzzling is good.
While it's probably not possible to overfeed your baby while breastfeeding, you should always see your doctor if you have any concerns. It may be comforting to know, however, that breastfed babies are excellent regulators, and that breast milk has incredible, obesity-fighting benefits, according to an article in Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine — even if baby eats a bit too much. If only healthy eating could always be so easy.