Before I explain how to manage too much milk, I first want to define what it means to have too much milk. But before I can define “too much milk,” I want to define what is average or normal. Defining normal is important for two reasons: One, you should not follow the advice in this series of blogs if you do not, in fact, have an oversupply of milk. Two, if you are a mom who makes too much milk, you need to offer that up as a disclaimer every time you talk to another breastfeeding mom. For instance, during the dreaded “how much do you pump” conversation, the oversupply mom may say, “I pump six ounces (or more) from both breasts combined. But, I am an overproducer.” It is simply not fair to average breastfeeding moms for them to believe that their three ounces combined from both breasts is too little, because it isn’t at all.
Supply matches demand
Total daily milk output: 24-32 oz/ 24 hours
A pump in place yields <3 oz from both breasts combined.
A baby who only directly nurses (no bottles at all), gets enough to gain the average 5-7 oz per week.
Average supply is, in 24 hours, producing the same amount of milk the baby eats.
Supply exceed demand
Total daily output: >32 oz/ 24 hours
A pump in place yields >5 oz from both breasts combined.
A baby who only directly nurses (no bottles at all), consistently gains 8 oz or more per week.
Baby most often is satisfied with nursing from just one breast at each feeding cycle.
Sometimes, the baby is satisfied on one breast and that breast still feels full.
Oversupply is, in 24 hours, producing more milk than the baby eats.
If you tend toward oversupply, you are probably often aware of the fullness of your breasts and your need to nurse. You can rarely make it to the three or four hour between feeding cycles without coaxing the baby to nurse (perhaps even before she is ready) because you need the relief.
If you have an oversupply, you may be reliant on your pump at least once if not multiple times per day if the baby doesn’t do a good enough job softening you. You may be a little too familiar with plugged ducts and mastitis.
If you are pumping in place of breastfeeding, you are collecting multiple ounces in excess of what baby eats in a day, and storing in your freezer.
If you have met with a quality IBCLC at two weeks postpartum or later and she has done a transfer weigh, your baby probably ate about 90-120 milliliters (three to four ounces) from the first breast. They may have taken the second breast and taken an additional 30-60 milliliters (one to two ounces) before tapping out.
Lactating parents with an oversupply report that their babies are “quick nursers,” sometimes finishing a nursing session in as little as seven to ten minutes. Their babies sometimes cough and sputter during feedings. They may or may not spit up.
If you seem have a happy, well-fed baby who may or may not happily puke on himself, your baby doesn’t have a problem with your milk supply. If pump and collect milk to store in your freezer everyday and it isn’t an undue burden.
If you have boobs that feel full most of the time, but have adjusted to taking turns at every other feeding without needing to be pumped, your boobs don’t have a problem with your oversupply.
If you have a fussy, spitty, pukey baby…
If you have a baby with lime green poops…
If you have a baby that seems gassy because she swallows so much air while nursing…
If you are a dependent on your pump and your baby…
If you have chronic and repeated boughts of mastitis…
If you have hundreds of ounces in your freezer and there is no room left for ice cream…
You may have an oversupply problem. Check out the next blog on how to manage your oversupply.