When I was pregnant with Bonnie, one of my biggest concerns was that I might not be able to produce enough milk to breastfeed her (without having to supplement with formula.) Everything I’d read said that most women with PCOS are at greater risk for insufficient milk supply. What I did not take into account is that one-third of women with PCOS struggle with an oversupply of breast milk, which could be due to elevated prolactin levels (hyperprolactinemia) that occur in about 20% of moms with PCOS.
Bonnie was born on a Sunday, and my milk came in that Tuesday. It was obvious from the start that I was going to have a lot of milk, and I was absolutely elated, as I would much rather have too much milk than too little. But I did not realize that producing too much milk creates complications just like producing too little does.
Because I was (and still am) producing so much milk, Bonnie sometimes has a difficult time feeding. She latches immediately and perfectly, but has to break her latch often, because she is practically drowning in milk. This makes her fussy, panicky, and of course, gassy. She is getting plenty of milk, but the breastfeeding experience is not always enjoyable for her.
With some trial and error, and some helpful advice from our pediatrician’s lactation consultant, Bonnie and I are working on breastfeeding, and each day is getting a little bit better. Prior to her birth, I had not done any research on overproduction of milk, since I was far more worried about the possibility of having a difficult time producing milk.
So for any other new moms who are frustrated by your abundant supply of milk…
Helpful Tips for the New Mom with an Oversupply of Breast Milk
1) Lean back while feeding- This can help slow down the flow of breast milk. Bonnie does not like to eat in this position, but we are working on it.
2) Block feed- There are a couple of different ways to block feed. You can feed from one breast at one feeding, and then the other at the next feeding, and so on and so forth. Or you can feed from one breast for the baby’s morning and afternoon feedings, and the other for her evening and nighttime feedings. The latter is my and Bonnie’s preferred method.
3) Hand express before each feeding- This has been a HUGE help for us. It prevents Bonnie from getting absolutely inundated with milk the moment she latches on, which means she is able to calmly begin feeding, as opposed to screaming three seconds in.
4) Pump when you need to- but ONLY when you absolutely need to, and only an ounce or so from each breast, because the more you pump, the more you produce.
5) Peppermint and/or sage tea- Both of these are said to reduce milk supply. It is fine and safe to drink two or three cups of either each day. Sage can be toxic in certain forms, so be sure only to drink sage tea and not to try to get it any other way. The tea is safe because it contains only the sage leaves.
7) Cabbage leaves- Wash the leaves thoroughly, and store them in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use them, take out the leaves you need, roll over them with a clean rolling pin, breaking their veins. Then stuff your bra with them (glamorous, I know)! Once the leaves are wilted, throw them out. Repeat throughout the day and night as often as you like.
I am loving breastfeeding more and more, but Bonnie and I still have a lot of little kinks to iron out, for her sake. So far, I’ve found the above tips incredibly helpful. I am hopeful that, over the next several weeks, my supply will regulate itself, and Bonnie will be able to feed 100% comfortably and happily!