Too much milk

Sometimes mothers make too much milk. This is called oversupply.

If you recognize any of the following symptoms, you may make too much milk. You make too much milk if your baby…

  • gains more than 300 grams a week;
    • brings up a lot of milk;
    • has cramps;
    • has a lot of and sometimes green bowel motions with white bits of undigested breast milk
    • During the nursing, the baby is restless (gags, releases the nipple);
    • A lot of hiccups and burps (due to swallowing air your baby has a lot of air in the stomach).

You make too much milk if you

  • Leak a lot and engorgement continues to be an issue;
  • Often experience clogged ducts and even inflammation of the breasts;
  • Let-down reflex (milk ejection reflex) is very strong, sometimes even multiple times per feed, and sometimes the milk sprays out when the baby lets go

What causes oversupply?

In breastfeeding, the supply and demand principle plays an important role. This means that the breasts make as much milk as your baby demands. When your baby eats, the milk glands are going to produce new milk. The more milk your baby eats, the more milk is produced. It may take several weeks for your baby’s demand and your supply of milk to become synchronized.

During this period, the supply and demand principle may be disturbed by well-intentioned advice like: your child should not eat for more than 10 minutes, you should only attach the baby once every four hours, you should attach the baby to both breasts or just one breast at a time. In some women this leads to a lack of milk production. In other women, the breasts are overloaded, get very strong let-down reflex, and as a result a very fussy baby who can’t handle the large amount of milk.

Tips from our obstetricians to deal with strong let-down reflex:

  • Use the breast pump to relieve the worst tension in your breasts before you attach the baby. This allows your child a stronger ‘grip’ and a quieter start;
  • If the reflex is very strong, take your baby off your chest and let the milk flow. After that you can reattach your child
  • Different positions may also be helpful. For example, lean back a little if you’re feeding while sitting, or lie down on your back with your baby on your stomach. The milk has to flow upwards and will not squirt as badly. It will be easier for your baby to process the milk.