Got milk? I do, and a lot of it for that matter. One of the biggest issues discussed and written about associated with breastfeeding is under-producing: women not being able to produce, or not thinking that their bodies are making an adequate amount of milk for their babies, which is not uncommon. It can be for a variety and combination of reasons such as cultural/psychological problems in our society, latching issues, poor support and not receiving proper professional help, bad information or lack of education, medical reason not being addressed, etc. etc. etc. Chances are you know at least one woman that has struggled with this.
I'd like to talk about having the opposite problem. Wait one minute! Did you say "problem?!" How could making enough milk, and plus some, be a bad thing? Sounds amazing! Yes, I am so grateful I have a body that is able to feed my child all she/he wants and I try my very best not to take it for granted but it is also my curse.
Recently I was talking with someone about their current struggles with breastfeeding (another undersupply issue) and I told her that I knew that these bumps and setbacks were rough and that I could empathize and relate to her. After I said that I felt bad. I thought that she must think I'm crazy. She knew that I made plenty of milk for my child so how could I possibly relate to her at all?
So What Are the Bad Things: I know a lot of you won't pity the woman who makes enough milk for her child. Oversupply is a real issue though. It can be just as challenging as under-producing. It is often accompanied with a strong, forceful let-down. It can be painful and baby tends to have a lot of problems on the breast. Your little one can choke, fuss, wiggle, and release sending milk across the room. Trust me when I say that babies don't like milk showers, especially when they get in their eyes. It can be difficult for a baby to get the proper balance of foremilk and hindmilk. That is because they never get to the fatty milk before they're full. That can cause baby to feel unsatisfied, and colicky. It is hard to get baby to nurse for comfort because of their "love/hate" relationship with the breast. It's hard for them to relax when every time they attach at the breast there is too much milk for them to handle. Engorgement, clogged milk ducts and the constant worry of mastitis causes a lot of stress on mom.
It is important to consult with an IBCLC to help you and make a plan to fit your individual needs. Some may think that it would be silly to talk to a professional about making a bountiful amount of milk, thinking lactation consultants help women build up their undersupply. That is obviously far from the truth. I have received help from an IBCLC for my oversupply with both children. Each plan was a little bit different based on my children's unique ways of coping and dealing with my supply.
How To Move Forward and Give: There is good chance that if you are dealing with an oversupply your lactation consultant will give you instructions on draining your breasts to prevent mastitis and/or pumping a small amount for relief or for baby to be able to latch. There is always someone out there that needs your milk. Find out if there is a local milk bank in your area to donate what you have pumped. That milk will go to various hospitals to NICU babies that need a little extra help. You can also find families to give to if you are looking for a more personal experience. I truly believe in GIVING if you find a family wanting your breast milk, but this is entirely up whether or not it is free. Luckily, a lot of babies "grow into" mom's oversupply. Mother's bodies can also regulate to a more reasonable or normal amount as well. It usually takes a while though. Seeking help is your best bet for controlling your milk supply so you and your little one will begin to enjoy your breastfeeding experience.