How an Overabundant Milk Supply Affects You and Your Baby

Young mother breastfeeding her baby under a jacket
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It's normal to experience an overabundant supply of breast milk during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Then, as the weeks go on, most women will notice that their milk supply is adjusting to their baby's needs. But, for some women, this adjustment will not seem to come, and they will continue to make too much breast milk.

You might not think that having too much breast milk is a problem. After all, many women struggle with a low supply of breast milk, so producing extra milk might actually sound like a blessing. However, an excessive amount of breast milk can cause difficulty breastfeeding and problems for both you and your baby.

How Making Too Much Breast Milk Affects Your Baby

Each time your little one breastfeeds, she begins by getting a low-fat, watery milk called foremilk. As the feeding progresses, the foremilk changes over to a higher-fat, creamier milk called hindmilk. Hindmilk is more filling and helps to satisfy your baby's hunger.

When you have too much breast milk, your baby may fill up on foremilk and stop breastfeeding before getting very much hindmilk. If your child doesn't get enough hindmilk, she may want to eat more often and begin to gain weight very quickly.

Another problem with an oversupply of breast milk is that it's often associated with a very forceful let-down reflex. If the flow of milk from your breast is too powerful and quick, it can be tough for your baby to breastfeed. The baby may gag, choke, and have difficulty breathing and nursing at the same time. And, while trying to keep up with the very fast flow of breast milk, your baby may swallow a lot of air. Taking in too much air causes fussiness, gas, spitting up, hiccups, and symptoms of colic. Some babies may become very frustrated and refuse to breastfeed.

What You Can Do for Your Baby

  • You can use a breast pump or a hand expression technique to remove some of the breast milk from your breasts before you start to breastfeed your baby. Once the first forceful let-down has occurred, the flow of your milk will slow down, and it will be easier and more comfortable for your baby to nurse.
  • You can breastfeed in a reclined position. Try to breastfeed while lying back with your baby above you. Nursing against gravity may help to slow down the flow of your breast milk.
  • Burp your child very often during the feeding to remove any air that he may have swallowed. Getting rid of that excess air will help your baby to feel more comfortable, and it will make room in his stomach for more hindmilk.
  • Feed your baby from the same breast for a few feedings in a row. Offering your child the same breast for more than one feeding allows her to get more hindmilk. It also takes away some of the stimulation the other breast would receive. Reducing the stimulation can help decrease your milk supply a little bit.

How Making Too Much Breast Milk Affects You

An overabundant supply of breast milk can cause some of the common problems of breastfeeding such as:

What You Can Do for Yourself

  • See your doctor to check your thyroid function. Women who have hyperthyroidism and postpartum thyroiditis can end up making too much breast milk. 
  • Wear a nursing bra that fits you well. Your overfull breasts will be heavy and need extra support.
  • If your breasts are so full and uncomfortable that you need to remove some breast milk, only express enough to relieve the pain of breast engorgement, but don't empty your breasts of milk. If you pump too much, you will increase your milk production.
  • Try placing cold compresses or cabbage leaves on your breasts to ease your discomfort and help decrease your breast milk supply.
  • Talk to your doctor about using birth control pills or other medications that can contribute to lowering your supply. But, be careful not to decrease your milk supply too much. You don't want to go from having too much breast milk to not enough.
  • You can pump, freeze, and store any extra breast milk that you express and use it at a later time. Properly stored breast milk can be frozen for 3 to 6 months or even longer.
  • You can also think about pumping and donating your breast milk to a milk bank.
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Article Sources
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  1. Eglash A. Treatment of maternal hypergalactiaBreastfeed Med. 2014;9(9):423–425. doi:10.1089/bfm.2014.0133

  2. van Veldhuizen-Staas CG. Overabundant milk supply: an alternative way to intervene by full drainage and block feedingInt Breastfeed J. 2007;2:11. doi:10.1186/1746-4358-2-11

  3. Trimeloni L, Spencer J. Diagnosis and Management of Breast Milk Oversupply. J Am Board Fam Med. 2016;29(1):139-42. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2016.01.150164

Additional Reading
  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, Seventh Edition. Mosby. 2011.

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