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Breastmilk Oversupply and Engorged Breasts

A mum recently asked us this question:  "I am wondering if any mums have advice about an oversupply of milk. I have so much milk that it is actually quite uncomfortable. My baby is six months old and starting to sleep through the night, and I find that if she doesn't wake for a feed in the night, my breasts are sore and I actually need to wake up and express milk just so they calm down enough that I can fall back asleep."

Its great that her baby is sleeping longer, but a side effect on mum is that her body hasn't yet adjusted the supply of breastmilk!  So we asked a question on our Facebook page. How do other mums deal with oversupply issues? Will they ever settle down?"

The main points:

  • see your lactation consultant to discuss
  • only express of the minimal amount of milk just to relive the pressure and soreness, massage in the shower or hand express.
  • Try not to use a breast pump, and try not to get much milk, otherwise your body will think it has to produce more milk
  • Feed lying down to try and reduce the flow
  • Latch baby, then remove, and then relatch again so that you get through the initial fast flow
  • Things will improve as your body adjusts to this, it won't happen forever!
  • Perhaps you want to donate milk to Eats on Feet?
  • Try the Block Feeding Method

Other mums replied with their compassionate advice:

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Don't express as you will just make more, warm cloth over your boobs will release the pressure until your supply regulates to babies needs

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Only expressed enough to take off the pressure... Eventually it calmed down but took a while.

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Yes! I had the same problem and it was awful! I used to wake up in the night leaking through bra, breast pads, and singlet and through the sheet onto the mattress. I felt so gross and spent a good few weeks in tears over it before someone gave me the best advice! I wore a really tight sports bra to bed for a few nights and it stopped! I still leaked those first few nights and it then got less and less. It DID NOT affect my supply contrary to others beliefs, my son is now 9 months and we're still going strong. Hope it works for you too

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I'm exactly the same as you. Huge over supply. But stop the expressing, it generally takes about 3-5 nights for your boobs to feel ok. If you express your boobs think they need I keep producing for that time, so you're not doing yourself any favours

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I did with my first bub, only express to relieve fullness (pain), not to empty the breast, you boobs will slowly adjust. Freeze the milk you express & give a bottle to give you boobs a break!

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It will decrease, supply and demand, if bub reduces feeds u will make less milk, it takes more than a day or two sometimes.

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I too have this issue with my daughter. She is 6mths and my breasts have only started to settle down in the last week. Baby has started sleeping through and even though I was waking in pain I just kept dealing with the pain. I ended up getting mastitis over the weekend because of it but have only needed to express the once to release the duct. It sucks and I know exactly how you feel. You're doing a great job still breast feeding with over supply; I am looking forward the day that she can take the bottle.... Hmmm not the weaning for the breast but def for the end result of no more milk! Good luck!

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Hemp breast pads are the best I never leaked through them and I had similar issues Good luck

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Use breast shells, they allow any excess milk to be expressed off while you sleep.

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Only hand express just enough to ease the discomfort. Sometimes I had to do it a couple of times during the night (first or second nights). But give it a few nights/a week and they will adjust. Be careful of any major changes in your breastfeeding routine too as I found my supply was over sensitive - but they always adjusted

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It does settle down... but I know how it feels! A hot shower can make u feel better and relieves the pressure as the milk flows! I

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Try block feeding and express just enough to ease discomfort - mastitis is a risk if you let it back up too much, which is a complication you really don't want. I had this issue, but things settled down after 8 weeks.

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Block feeding on one side as others suggest is a great option to tone down the oversupply- LC's or LLL can help with this. Minimise or eliminate the expressing. Know that it will settle in time especially with some good LC/LLL advice to help out and it's horrible with the wet beds and still using so many breast pads at 6mo but eventually you will be able to have dry sheets and boobs- it will happen! I wouldn't go with the tight bra option as you could risk mastitis. Good on you for sticking at it- the rewards will be worth it for both of you and at some point you won't really remember all the discomfort- your message reminded me what it was like! And if you do want to other people's ideas of donation are great- but that doesn't necessarily solve your discomfort issue.

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My baby also couldn't cope with the fast flow, midwife suggested lying down to feed which helped. Unlatch when the first let down of milk ( which is a fast flow, spill that onto a cloth) and relatch bubs.

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I had the same problem, and with my first it made him act really colicky too, I ended up block feeding and it worked wonders, took a couple of days of discomfort to adjust the supply though but totally worth it. Began block feeding pretty much the word go with my other two and it was much easier

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I had this problem big time with my first son. It got to the point when I was very close to stopping feeding him at 4 weeks old. I saw a lactation consultant who suggested like above to lie down while feeding! I was sure I wouldn't be able to do it but gave it a try and it worked wonders. Any level of recline will help if you can't actually lie down. I started by switching to rugby hold and would latch him whilst still sitting up and then lay back or 'slouch' on the couch. (Slide my bum out to the edge of couch so I was laying back a bit more). I also STOPPED expressing any extra milk which was hard at first but soon became less uncomfortable. The more you express the more your body thinks your baby needs. My milk would squirt across the room as soon as I took my bra off and extra milk was going all over the place. Anyway after two weeks of this I was able to stop the laying down and after another couple of weeks I switched back to cradling him when I fed. When I had baby number 2 I did all this from the start and had no problems.

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Talk to a lactation consultant before you try anything, but I have found that block feeding worked for my oversupply issues. Took till baby number 3 of 4 to figure it out. I would feed on one side only per feeding session - ie: 6am, Feed on Left side, change nappy, feed Left side again. If baby was hungry again, then left side again. 10am - feed Right side, nappy change, feed right side again. This way your other breast gets enough of the "Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation" (FIL) protein built up. This will tell your breasts to "stop making so much milk". They do need to get full and uncomfortable to reach this point, but do persevere if you can. But as I said, talk to a Lactation Consultant as you don't want Mastitis - I never had any issues though. I had to do this for a few feeds (even 2 whole sessions per boob to really empty it) for a few days before my boobs got the message, and I did this till bubs was 6 months old, before I had to do both sides per feed.

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Express just enough to relieve the real hardness. Not expressing these hard areas is highly likely to wind up causing mastitis, milk sitting in the ducts for too long is the primary cause of mastitis, the first sign of which is feeling like you have a cold or flu coming on, and redness to specific sites on the breast. Feeding in a lying down position, and wearing a firm fitting nursing bra will help reduce supply. As will popping cool flannels on your breasts immediately after feeding. Hope this helps!

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