Feel like your breasts are becoming shower heads that just won’t turn off? If you and your baby are frustrated, rest assured that we’re here to help you through.
First thing’s first – if your baby is four to six weeks old, you and your baby probably haven’t adjusted to the whole (very new) breastfeeding ‘thing’. Be patient. Even if your milk is squirting out at all different angles. We promise it gets better! It takes time for your production to sync up with your baby’s actual needs.
If it’s past four to six weeks, there are some tell-tale signs that you may be overproducing. The first sign? Baby’s poo looks more like celery juice or a green smoothie than actual poo. Yuck. You may also notice that your breasts feel hard and lumpy (kind of like sacks of potatoes – excuse the very un-sexy reference). While feeding, your baby will likely fuss consistently. He or she may even choke due to a fast flow. Lastly, if you think your baby is packing on the pounds, consult with your doctor to make sure things are kept in check.
But how’d you get to this point? Turns out cell phone connections aren’t the only thing that can be weak. Your baby’s connection and position when breastfeeding may not be right. Try laying down or experiment by holding your breast with your fingers closer to your areola while feeding. Also, your baby may not be draining your breast completely or your breasts may be overstimulated. Additionally, your breasts might be inflamed which can be caused by trigger foods.
Now that we’ve covered all that, there are a handful of solutions. You may want to ditch your bra. Seriously. Wearing it can overstimulate your breasts and may lead to mastitis. Alternatively, if you’re done nursing long-term and want to end your flow, you can bind your breasts (think of essentially shrink-wrapping your chest by way of wearing several bras over one another). Beyond that, you can try block nursing – i.e., feeding from only one breast and then hand-expressing from the other. This way your baby finishes all the milk from one breast, vs. leaving one breast partially full of milk before moving on to the next.
We’d be remiss not to mention that you can also donate your extra milk. Doing so may help prevent prematurity-related death. Not every mother is able to breastfeed, so the Human Milk Banking Association of North America accepts milk donations. There is an application, screening process and blood test involved (at no cost to donors). Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in overproducing milk. Over 11,000 women donated milk in the US and Canada last year, by way of 27 nonprofit HMBANA-member milk banks around the country.
No matter what your supply situation is, if it turns out you’re producing more than your baby needs all it takes is a bit of time and patience before things will improve. In the meantime, here are some baby food recipes you can make with breastmilk. And once you’re certain that you want to stop the milk for good, here are some other tips to help.