What is milk oversupply?
Milk oversupply happens when a mother makes more milk than her baby uses. It is sometimes called overabundant milk supply or hyperlactation.
Many things influence how much milk you produce. The two most important things are how often you breastfeed or pump your breasts and how well your breasts are emptied. So the more often you feed your baby and empty your breasts, the more milk your body produces.
What are the symptoms of oversupply?
Your baby's symptoms may include:
- Crying during feeding.
- Refusing or resisting feeding.
- Gulping often during feeding.
- Gaining too much weight.
- Gaining too little weight. This could be because:
- Your milk flow is too fast for your baby to take in enough milk during feedings.
- Your baby isn't able to feed long enough to get the fattiest part of your milk.
- Having gas.
- Having large, frothy, green stools.
Your symptoms may include:
- Full breasts that keep leaking between feedings. Your breasts may spray.
- Breast pain.
- Breast engorgement. This can lead to blocked milk ducts and infection.
How is milk oversupply treated?
Many moms feel frustrated when they have too much milk. But there are things you can do to care for yourself and your baby.
If you think you have too much milk, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant. He or she can help you find out if you have a problem with your milk supply. Your doctor or lactation consultant may advise you to:
- Feed from just one breast during a nursing session or for a block of time (typically 3 hours). Then at the next session or block of time, feed from the other breast. You can remove just a little bit of milk from the unused breast to make you more comfortable.
- Try leaning back and nursing "uphill" so that your baby is above the nipple.
- Try nursing as you lie on your side so that extra milk dribbles out of your baby's mouth.
- Take ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) to reduce pain and swelling. Ibuprofen is safe for breastfeeding moms when taken as directed. But it's a good idea to check with your doctor before you take any kind of medicine while breastfeeding.
If your breasts still feel uncomfortable after nursing, try a cold compress to reduce swelling. You can use a frozen wet towel, a cold pack, or a bag of frozen vegetables. Apply it to your breasts for 15 minutes at a time every hour as needed. To prevent damage to your skin, place a thin cloth between your breast and the cold pack.
Current as of: February 23, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology