Friday, April 12, 2013

What is an overabundant milk supply?

An overabundant milk supply is when you have lots of milk which may leak and spray. Your baby may struggle to latch on and may come off the breast, frequently coughing and spluttering. She may also refuse the breast and become upset. This situation is often attributed to an "overactive letdown". In reality the letdown reflex isn't overactive, although it can be quickly triggered. An apparently overactive letdown is in fact a symptom of an overabundant milk supply.

What causes such a big letdown of milk?

In the early days of breastfeeding, when your milk "comes in", your breasts will produce lots of milk. This is because your body will produce enough milk to feed twins or even triplets, in case it needs to. As soon as your baby starts to breastfeed well and effectively, milk production should begin to regulate to provide your baby with just the amount she needs.

Usually overabundant milk production will correct itself in a few weeks, once breastfeeding is established. For some mothers, the problem carries on after their milk supply is established.

What can I do to help my baby?

Check that your baby is latched on well. Many mums struggle to latch their baby onto their breast when milk is leaking and spraying.

You may find that the following "tricks" may help your baby to latch on.
  • Before each feed, hand express or pump just enough milk to slow down your flow. (You can either discard this milk or express into a sterilised container to store for later use.) The more you stimulate your breasts and the more milk you take out, the more you'll produce to fill demand. Remember the Supply vs Demand?
  • When your baby starts to suckle and triggers your letdown reflex, gently break the suction and allow the initial spurt to spray into a towel. Let your baby latch on again, when the flow slows down a bit.
  • You may find you can latch your baby on to the breast better if you vary your feeding position. If you normally use the cradle hold, try sitting your baby up facing you to feed (As always, you will need to let her head tip back a little). Some experts suggest that you try lying back or leaning backwards and feeding with your baby on top of you, as if trying to use gravity to slow the flow. The evidence for this is purely anecdotal, but it does seem to help some mothers, probably because they have improved the way that their baby latches on with their new position.

    What can I do if my milk supply doesn't slow down?

    For some mothers, the problem of an overabundant milk supply doesn't resolve itself, even after breastfeeding is established. If this happens to you, it is likely that your baby is not latching on properly. If your baby cannot latch on well, she may need to feed more frequently than those babies who can as she isn't able to feed effectively so she will need to feed more often. Very frequent feeds may keep milk production levels high for a while, even though milk is also accumulating in your breasts.

    If your baby is latching on well but the situation is not improving, you could try using only one breast for two to four feedings. Put your baby to your breast as many times as she desires - just use the same one for up to a two-hour period. You can pump your other breast to relieve pressure. This technique should reduce your milk supply within 24 to 48 hours. Keep an eye on your baby's weight in the following week, if you do this.

    What can I do if my baby is refusing the breast altogether?

    If your baby is getting upset and refusing the breast altogether, it's important to get some help from a breastfeeding counsellor or specialist. She will help you to latch your baby on successfully. In the early days of breastfeeding, you might simply need a bit more practice, or you may find that it is easier to latch your baby on to one side rather than another.

    While the problem is being sorted, if your baby is getting distressed and refusing the breast, you could express your milk and give it by some other means (cup or bottle) before trying the breast at every feed. This may help your baby to feed calmly without becoming upset. Gradually the expressed feeds can be reduced and your baby can go back to just feeding from your breast. Once your baby is latching on well, you should find that she is able to cope with the flow of milk.
But having an abundant milk flow will allow you to make a reserve of Expressed Breastmilk as those reserve are extremely needed if the mother need to be away from the baby, be it a working mother or a stay at home mother. If in case, the mother needs to work out of town or being on medication which isn't suit to breastfeed their baby, hence the usage of the milk reserved.

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