Lives in: St. Louis, Missouri
Breastfeeding experience: Problems at first, then smooth sailing
Main challenges: Hyperlactation (overabundant milk supply), engorgement, stress
Breastfed for: 8 months and counting
My mother nursed me and my siblings until we were toddlers so breastfeeding is commonplace to me. When I found out I was pregnant, I planned to nurse my baby. I had a typical vaginal hospital birth and, on day two, the lactation consultant came in to see if there were any problems.
Amelia's latch was fine but my breasts were feeling full. The lactation consultant said, "Wow, your milk is coming in early," and mentioned I might have an oversupply. I had never heard of it before. She told me that when I got home, if my breasts felt engorged, I should pump out some breast milk for a couple of minutes before I fed my daughter.
In those first days at home my daughter was nursing every hour or couple of hours, so I was just trying to feed her quickly without always remembering to pump first. But when I didn't, she'd latch and as soon as my milk let down, she'd choke and pull away from the breast because my milk was spraying out so forcefully. She'd get a look on her face like, "What's happening?"
I became anxious about it. When I felt my milk letting down, I'd get nervous.
I called the lactation consultants a few times for advice and everyone said pretty much the same thing – to pump beforehand. They said I should decrease the amount of milk I fed my daughter only if she was gaining weight too quickly or fussy and gassy.
So I pumped. I saved the milk in the freezer, which was nice because when Amelia had a growth spurt and was feeding a lot, I could use the extra bags I'd put away.
It was hard for four to six weeks but after that I learned to manage my oversupply and I didn't feel as stressed. My baby also became a superefficient feeder. She was usually done in less than 10 minutes, which was good for me because feedings went quickly and we could get up and do other things. People told me she was just snacking but she was gaining weight.
Throughout this time I attended a weekly breastfeeding support group. I went when Amelia was 5 days old to deal with the oversupply issue, and it helped. There was only one other mom there with an oversupply issue but the camaraderie meant a lot. It helps to know you're not alone.
Eventually my supply did regulate, but it took two or three months. Amelia's doing well – she's growing, and she's still a superefficient nurser. I'll keep going as long as she wants to.
My biggest lesson learned
There are so many variations of normal. Oversupply can be just as stressful as undersupply. People told me all the time that it must be nice to have so much milk but it was painful and stressful. I suggest going to a breastfeeding support group or, at the very least, calling a lactation consultant. It was good to get advice when I needed it.
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