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What Is Oversupply? Turns Out Too Much Breast Milk Can Be An Issue

For moms like me who struggled to make enough breast milk, it seems unfathomable that having too much breast milk could be a problem. Yet, some nursing moms and babies are struggling with an issue known as oversupply. But what is oversupply? It's different than just making more breast milk than your baby can drink.

La Leche League International explains that both mom and baby can feel stressed and uncomfortable when a mom has oversupply. As the site noted, the rush of milk from an overfull breast can cause babies to have a difficult time feeding, and even keep them from drinking enough milk because they aren't able to handle the strong flow. Breastfeeding Basics adds that a mother's forceful letdown reflex may cause the baby to choke, gag or sputter when a jet of milk sprays too quickly into his mouth.

But how do you know if you have an oversupply? According to La Leche League International, the signs that your baby may be struggling with oversupply range from excessive irritability to shorter feedings to excessive gas. Moms may also notice their nipples are sore, their breasts feel full all of the time, and they may have plugged ducts or suffer from mastitis.

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Additionally, an overabundant milk supply can cause a problem known as foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. According to Breastmilk.com, foremilk-hindmilk imbalance can cause the baby to get full on the foremilk, the low fat content and high lactose milk that quenches your baby's thirst and miss out on the hindmilk, whose higher fat content helps stimulate your baby’s growth. Too much foremilk can cause an imbalance of lactose and lactase, which is the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose. Your baby will ingest too much lactose, and will not have sufficient lactase to digest it.

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One way that you can try to make sure that your baby gets both the foremilk and hindmilk is to feed from only one breast per feeding. This will also help to regulate your milk supply, according to the San Diego Breastfeeding Center. Breastmilk.com adds that you can also make sure your baby gets to the hindmilk by pumping a little prior to feeding your baby.

If you are struggling with oversupply, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant for more tips on regulating your supply so that you can keep breastfeeding from becoming an unpleasant task for you and your baby.