If you're a breastfeeding mom who struggles with producing enough milk for your baby, you might be rolling your eyes. Oversupply? Hand it over! But oversupply can be an equally difficult problem, causing complications with breastfeeding and creating considerable discomfort. There are breastfeeding hacks you can use to help the problem, though, and the first place to start is with the best breastfeeding position if you have oversupply.
The best breastfeeding position if you have oversupply is, according to BellyBelly, a position that allows the baby to be more upright than supine. The Australian website recommends mothers with oversupply hold their baby in upright positions. The site goes on to claim you may "need to experiment to see what works." The "Koala Hold," in which your baby sits facing you with his or her legs straddling your thigh, might be a hold that can help your baby handle the amount of breast milk you're producing. The site also suggests trying the football or clutch hold.
On the other hand, La Leche League, one of the foremost sites for breastfeeding information, suggests a side-lying position that, arguably, can be a little difficult to master. La Leche League writes:
"Many mothers with oversupply find that nursing in a side-lying position makes feedings go more smoothly because milk flows from the breast horizontally without the force of gravity and babies can let excess milk dribble downward from their mouths rather than having to swallow it all."
While having "too much breast milk" might sound like #FirstWorldProblems, La Leche League explains just how problematic oversupply can be, writing: "Mother's breasts feel very full most of the time and mother may have frequent plugged ducts, which can sometimes lead to mastitis." Meanwhile, it's no picnic for the baby either. "Baby cries a lot, and is often very irritable and/or restless, baby may sometimes gulp, choke, sputter, or cough during feedings at breast, and feedings may be short, lasting only five or 10 minutes total," according to La Leche League. And those are only some of the many adverse reactions babies can have to oversupply.
According to KellyMom, women's breasts typically regulate how much milk is produced based on how much the baby needs and is taking regularly. Sometimes, however, women produce more milk than the baby needs, no matter how much or how often the baby is drinking. This can lead to engorgement, and is often accompanied by additional complications, like lactose overload and overactive milk ejection reflex. The former essentially means that the milk is shooting out like a fire hose into the baby's mouth, making it awfully difficult for baby to drink.
La Leche League highlights the potential issue with overactive milk ejection reflex, too, writing:
"Some babies whose mothers have too much milk actually do not get enough milk because they have trouble handling the strong flow and can't breastfeed easily. These babies need supplementary feedings (preferably with their mothers' expressed milk) until their mothers' milk supply can be adjusted to better meet their needs."
And that's where breastfeeding positions that help reduce oversupply come in. Trying an upright or side-lying position, rather than a cradling position, can help reduce your supply altogether, or the force with which it comes out into baby's mouth.
Another option for starting to regulate your supply is to nurse your baby more often, like every hour, until your milk starts to slow down production to meet the need of smaller feeds. Alternatively, you can try "block feeding," which involves only feeding with one breast for a block of several hours, according to BellyBelly. The site explains this method in the following way:
"Start with a three hour block of time. Any time baby is hungry during that block, nurse him on the same side. Then switch to the other breast for the next three hour period. Express just to comfort if the unused breast feels too full. If you don't notice an improvement after doing this for several days, increase the number of hours in your block. Some mothers find that they need to go 12 hours in a block!"
And finally, if you think your baby might have a problem dealing with your milk supply because of a health issue, like a tongue or lip tie, make sure to have him or her checked out as soon as possible before attempting to reduce your supply. Your baby's pediatrician, your health care provider, or a lactation consultant are also great resources you can use to help navigate the difficulties of oversupply.
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