While some mothers worry about not having enough milk, others experience hyperlactation. Hyperlactation syndrome means that the breastfeeding mother’s body makes more milk than is necessary for her baby.
Hyperlactation can present some challenges to the breastfeeding relationship, but is overcome quite easily in most cases.
Many mothers experience an overabundance of milk at first before the supply regulates to feed just one infant. If your oversupply continues past the first six weeks or so, you may be experiencing hyperlactation.
Common symptoms in the mother can include a persistent feeling of engorgement in the breasts, excessive leaking with spraying, a forceful letdown that can sometimes be painful as well, and recurring plugged ducts or mastitis.
Symptoms in the breastfeeding infant can include general fussiness and gas due to a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, excessive spitting up after feedings, and green stools. An infant whose mother is experiencing an overactive supply may also choke, sputter, and make a clicking sound during nursing.
Hyperlactation - What to Do?
There are various methods to treat hyperlactation, all of which focus on regulating the mother’s supply.
- Using cabbage leaves in your bra is an age-old remedy that actually works.
- Keeping cool washcloths on your breast is another old cure since warm water encourages letdown.
- Doing block feedings. Nursing from only one breast for a period of a few hours or a few feedings is another common method of treatment.
- Dangle feeding (as shown in the picture), can help drain the breasts more efficiently to prevent problems like blocked ducts and mastitis.
- If you are nursing and pumping, it is essential that you not pump after feedings, as this can increase your supply even further. If you are uncomfortably engorged, you can hand express just enough milk to be comfortable.
- You may want to consider collecting the milk that leaks out of the other breast when nursing, to be used later.
- You may also be a good candidate to donate your milk to a local breast milk bank.
If you continue experiencing hyperlactation after trying these approaches, contact a lactation consultant or your local breastfeeding support group to connect with other mothers who may be experiencing this same issue.