Top 5 Breastfeeding Difficulties: High milk supply
Updated: Dec 16, 2019
For every mom that has a low milk supply, there is a mom that has a very HIGH supply. While it may not come with the stress and panic of "what am I going to feed my baby?" followed by feelings of defeat, Moms with a really high supply can struggle with infants not taking the breast because the letdown is too strong. What do you do then?
There are a couple of ways to handle increased let down, but let's start with positioning...
When feeding your baby, the most common position is the cradle hold, however, if you have an increased let down, this position may not be the best. When was the last time you stood under a big stream of water and tried to drink, swallow, breath, and not choke at the same time? Well if your last drink from a waterfall is not as fresh in your memory, we can assure you it's almost impossible!
One way to help your baby is to switch up your positioning! Try a laid back position so that gravity can help you pace your feedings. This way the let down won't be as strong and they can suckle at their own pace!
Another way to work with your baby and reduce the letdown strength is to pump or express a little beforehand. This takes that initial stream out of the equation and lets your milk steady itself-- AND your infant can pace their feeding!
Action Item: Try the laid back position to help with your rapid letdown, also express milk beforehand to control the flow!
If you do have a very high milk supply, you want to make sure that you don't miss a feeding or take too long to empty breasts between feedings. This includes nighttime. You shouldn't be going too long during the night without emptying your breasts, otherwise, your milk will build up! Waiting too long may become uncomfortable and it can put you at risk for engorgement. THIS could lead to mastitis. Something we will talk about next in the series!
There are a few things you can do if you make more milk than your baby drinks throughout the day...
The first thing would be to save it for days you might be away or miss a feeding (because we all know that does happen -- even if we have the best of intentions not to). You can begin to build a supply in your fridge/freezer. Remember to use the first in first out method to make sure none of your precious milk goes to waste.
The next thing you can do is become a milk donor or share your milk!
Becoming a Milk Donor:
How can you become a breastmilk donor?
Most places have a few requirements for becoming a milk donor. This includes but is not limited to being able to donate a minimum amount, making sure you are able to provide in excess so that your own baby is not deprived, some have infant age limits (milk composition will change over time), not taking certain medications/herbs, and/or being overall a healthy individual.
There are different places to donate through, some will pay you, others won't --depending on whether they are keeping costs down for other mothers. Here are a few:
Many local children's hospitals and/or other clinics may also take your breastmilk.
Each state may have different regulations, therefore you may have to do your own personal research for your area.
What to expect?
You will typically receive little containers to place breastmilk in and once you have enough, you will either turn it in (to the milk bank) or mail it. Many places will cover the cost of shipping, so no need to worry there.
If you are breastfeeding and do not have a problem with milk supply, donating milk could be a great way to give back to your community and impact not only the life of another baby but their whole family.
Lastly, you could try to decrease your supply if it becomes too much for you, your baby, and your storage space.
Cabbage leaves and breastfeeding have been tied together for a number of reasons, one being that they help decrease milk supply. Isn't nature fascinating? All you have to do is place cabbage leaves on both breasts for ~10-15 minutes once, twice, or a few times depending on how high your supply is. It has been proven to work, and no we aren't crazy!
Here are a few more tips!
Wear tight clothes and bras and don't empty your breasts as frequently. This will mimic your baby not being hungry if milk doesn't leave the breast or if there's pressure-- it tells the body that it doesn't need to produce as much milk. Be careful, because some women can become engorged easily which causes pain and risks for mastitis. If you start to feel uncomfortable, express some milk out so avoid becoming engorged. It may take some time to decrease your milk supply when following these directions, but always be patient with yourself!
Action item: Take one of these three steps to manage your milk supply and make breastfeeding good for you and your baby again!
Your health today is a LIFETIME of health for you AND your baby.
Until next time!
Coaches Cassie and Mikayla
Photo by Mehrshad Rajabi on Unsplash