Many mothers worry if they have enough milk.
However, having too much milk – an oversupply of breast milk — is actually more common than truly not having enough.
An oversupply of breast milk can be caused by expressing, in some situations.
For example, if a mother expresses milk in the early weeks (e.g. to build up a store of expressed breast milk), this can make her breasts set their milk making capacity at a higher level than is needed for her baby.
For some mothers, it is just that their body continues to make milk over and above what their baby needs.
7 Signs You May Have An Oversupply Of Breast Milk
Here are 7 signs that you may have an oversupply of breast milk:
Oversupply Of Breast Milk Sign #1: Rapidly Filling Breasts
Some mothers feel like their breasts fill up quickly after feeds (even despite their baby feeding well). In the early weeks, this may just be your breasts working out how much milk to make based on the amount your baby is drinking.
After the early weeks, most mothers find that their breasts feel comfortable most of the time. If they continue to fill up again quickly after feeds, especially if to the point they feel lumpy and sore, you may have an oversupply.
Oversupply Of Breast Milk Sign #2: Recurrent Blocked Ducts Or Mastitis
If a mother is making too much milk, it is more likely that some more milk will stay in her breasts, even after her baby feeds. This milk that remains can increase her chance of getting a blocked duct or mastitis.
Oversupply Of Breast Milk Sign #3: Fast Let-Down Reflex
Mothers with an oversupply often have a fast let-down reflex. If your baby often comes off your breast near the start of feeds coughing or gagging (you may see milk spraying from your nipple when this happens), you may have a fast let-down reflex.
Oversupply Of Breast Milk Sign #4: Your Baby Seems To Be Very ‘Gassy’ Or ‘Windy’
If a baby is drinking large volume feeds due to her mother having an oversupply, this may cause her to be more unsettled than is usual for her age.
It is normal for babies under the age of 3 months to have one or two unsettled periods every 24 hours. During unsettled periods, a baby typically:
- Cry a lot
- Is very difficult to settle to sleep
- Makes facial grimaces
- Arches her back
- Brings her knees up to her chest
A baby who is drinking excessively large volumes of milk due to her mother having an oversupply, will be typically unsettled and show the above signs to a greater degree.
Oversupply Of Breast Milk Sign #5: Often Large Weight Gains
If a mother has an oversupply, her baby will often put on quite a bit more weight than average.
Oversupply Of Breast Milk Sign #6: Copious Amounts Of Poo
If a mother has an oversupply, her baby poos very often. For example, it may seem like when your baby feeds, the milk goes in one and then straight out the other. The baby might poo during, after and in between feeds. The poo is often green and frothy.
Oversupply Of Breast Milk Sign #7: Copious Wees
A baby whose mother has an oversupply has loads of wee. For example, 10 or more very wet nappies in 24 hours.
Oversupply Of Breast Milk Sign #8: Spits Up Often
While it is normal and common for a baby to spit up milk, a baby whose mother has an oversupply will often spit up after all feeds.
Find out how to manage your oversupply with our 6 tips.
You may also like to speak with an Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor or see a trained lactation consultant.