Breastfeeding Bites #4. Oversupply in the Early Weeks

Last time I wrote about what it’s like when the milk comes in and how to handle that process. It involved a lot of leaking and a lot of milk not ending up in my baby (who had PLENTY already).

I’m very conscious that having this surplus, while challenging, is mostly a lot less stressful than feeling like you have low supply. Like I’ve said previously this series is very much only charting my personal breastfeeding story so consequently this edition features lots of excess milk. If you are reading this and struggling with thinking you have low supply do be kind to yourself –  firstly you may not have low supply (weight gain and nappies are the indicator, not leakage/ability to express/frequency of feeds) and if you do then the reasons for some women needing to increase supply while others could do with decreasing it are various and mysterious. KellyMom, La Leche League, Australian Breastfeeding Association and Global Health Media to name just a few support organisations all have information relating to low supply.

So milk…I wasn’t really prepared for catching it to begin with and sadly a lot of milk ended up in the sink, down my tops, soaking through muslins, accidentally squirted in passerby’s eyes… I’m joking obviously, no chance of a passerby in my living room and leaving the house with a large supply at this stage is practically impossible for me – feeding is currently indiscreet and potentially drenching.

Things will regulate soon so I don’t feel any need to use anything to lower it. Until it does I am not feeding out and about and I’m using the following props to help keep things sociable and less messy at home:

1. Good Quality Breast Pads: I really don’t like disposable breast pads  – I used them with my first child for a couple of months but found the unbreathable plastic offputting and frankly they weren’t up to the task…I frequently would have large milk patches coming through my tops, and that was AFTER I’d started leaving the house…not a good look.

Instead I favour a good quality washable pad…in particular the Bambooby Nights breast pads. I use them through the day and night and I am astonished at their absorbency – I have never leaked through or had any irritation from them.

2. Shells: These are AMAZING. I use them every feed on the side that’s not in active use. They go on under the bra and, voila, they catch all the leaking milk! Two words of advice: make sure the pouring hole is at the top of the shell… And don’t bend down when wearing them…the milk will pour out over you, the floor, whatever you’ve bent down over and you may cry.

I use Medela ones and am very happy with them, but have done absolutley no research, it was very much a panic purchase to stop the house floating away in breastmilk.

3. Laidback Positioning: This will help hugely with the problem of the milk spraying everywhere, as well as helping your baby cope with the fast flow.

4. Taking Baby Off: A fast let-down and a lot of milk could result in a baby who chokes and splutters and gulps air and generally causes themselves quite a few windy problems. Well that’s us anyway. Taking the baby off momentarily from feeding at let-down and letting the geezer of milk flow into a muslin (or bottle if you are super-organised) for a moment can help keep things calmer for both of you .

5. Food: You don’t need to eat a huge amount more if you’re breastfeeding but if you are of slight build and you’re overproducing then more energy is a must. I feel the need to eat every thirty minutes, no joke…we are spending a fortune on food! Try to go for good-for-you but energy-giving…you know, nuts and the like.

6. Donation: It seemed a bit unnecessary for me to have all this milk but apparently my local hospital no longer takes milk donations. However, I have since come across the UK Association for Milk Banking so I’ll investigate! If anyone has any experience with milk donation do let me know.

7. Storage Bottles, Bags & a Big Enough Freezer: My husband asked me how much longer we thought we might want to keep catching the leaked milk the other day. I wasn’t sure what the motivation for the question was until I went into the downstairs freezer and realised that we are rapidly running out of space. It really made me laugh…so here we have over 3 litres of leaked (not expressed) milk from one week of collection:

Lots of bags of milk

It makes me tired looking at it…must be time for an almond? Oh who am I kidding, pass me the chocolate cake!

 

Check out the previous edition if you missed how to handle the milk coming in if you make a lot of it, and tune in next time for a little tip on how to remember which side for which feed.

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8 thoughts on “Breastfeeding Bites #4. Oversupply in the Early Weeks

  1. I am in awe of all that milk!!! Go you. Fantastic tips here, I discovered shells when I was past the stage of really needing them (mine calmed down pretty quickly) but will definitely utilise them in the future if I have cause to! And I want to try reusable pads too. If you did ever need disposables as a backup Johnsons ones are really expensive but about 10 times more absorbent than all the boots/mothercare etc ones I tried. Ellen xx

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    1. Thank you lovely. Haha the milk is ridiculous. We are now completely out of freezer space and i can’t keep it at the moment…it feels so wrong tipping it away.
      Ooo good tip on the Johnsons, i’ll look out for them…I think they’d be handy for travelling when i can’t guarantee getting to a washing machine. I only tried boots/mothercare last time before getting the Bamboobys. Xx

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  2. I know I’m quick off the mark here, super sleuth that I am – I deduce congratulations are in order.
    What a load of milk, goodness me! Yes, don’t waste it – that magical stuff deserves more. You can become a donor for your local maternity ward – generally for the prems but you need to be screened first. The other option is a bit weird and I don’t necessarily recommend it, but honestly this stuff is like gold on Facebook. There are groups of UK mummies desperate for extra milk and those who have far too much and they all come together on Facebook to arrange the sharing of this milk, screened or otherwise. 😳
    I probably should explain, I’m a trained breast feeding peer supporter so sometimes get tagged into pleas for help on such pages, rather than being some kind of milk weirdo. 😉

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    1. Ha…a milk fetish perhaps!? No, thank you that’s interesting. I wanted to go down the hospital route so was disappointed to hear that my local one is potentially not still accepting donations but i’ll get in touch and see. I hate wasting it but i absolutely no means of storing it now…the freezer is full of milk. Hmm i hadn’t realised there was such a FB ‘market’ as it were…i can understand why…apparently breastmilk gets sold on ebay as well.
      Thank you kindly for the comment and the congrats – we’re five weeks in today, it’s all good so far!

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  3. Ahh this brings back memories! Really great tips, especially about taking baby off.’I hadn’t expected the first few weeks of motherhood to involve being covered in quite so much milk so being prepared for that as a possibility is useful when you’re pregnant I think! Also my bub used to scream blue murder because he just wanted to have a nice little comforting suck not Niagara Falls and I did panick quite a lot but as they get older they learn to manage the flow. It’s important to be patient and remember everything is constantly changing when they’re so little (I was bad at this!).

    Thanks for the tip about the breast pads, I had the opposite experience and tried a few reusable and found they were all quite poor so have been using disposables. The best I’ve come across by far are the Lansinoh nursing pads and you can buy them on amazon. I will def look into those ones you use as I’m still getting through four a day so not environmental or wallet friendly!

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  4. Thank you for your lovely comment, i’ll look the lansinoh ones up as it’s useful to have spares. I tried some washable ones that weren’t very good but can’t remember their name. These bambooby ones are magic (in my opinion!).
    Ah yes, the comfort suck fail…i find this SO stressful. I recognise it this time but it’s still awful when she want to feed/suck for a bit of comfort but screams when the milk hits.
    And yes wise words that everything changes…i was so bad at remembering this too first time but second time it is easier to know it rather than just hope! Doesnt make everyday easier but it does help!
    X

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