image bio

Celebrate Earth Day and commit to sustainability with 20% off sitewide, use code EARTHDAY. Shop Now

Login/Sign up to see rewards balance

0 Item(s) in the shopping cart
Home > Learn > Postpartum > >How to Reduce Oversupply of Breast Milk

How to Reduce Oversupply of Breast Milk

Feb 16, 24 7 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN

Breastfeeding oversupply, sometimes referred to as hyperlactation syndrome or hypergalactia, happens when a breastfeeding person produces more milk than their infant needs. [1] Not only is oversupply often uncomfortable for the parent, but babies can also experience discomfort or challenges when breastfeeding. [1-3] Fortunately, there are some ways to encourage healthy milk production and reduce oversupply. 

Signs of Oversupply

Overproduction of milk can lead to some uncomfortable symptoms. Some signs of oversupply include [1-3]:

  • Breast pain or engorgement
  • Breasts that feel full immediately or soon after nursing
  • Nipple vasospasm: A condition that occurs when the blood vessels supplying the nipple contract. This can lead to a sore, burning, or stabbing sensation before, during, or after a feeding. 
  • Milk blister: Also known as a milk bleb, this is a clogged pore in the nipple that occurs during breastfeeding. 
  • Nipple fissures: Learn how to treat cracked nipples here
  • Frequently leaking milk
  • Clogged milk ducts
  • Baby is restless while nursing
  • Baby may cough, choke, or gulp quickly at the breast
  • Baby may arch, stiffen, or clamp down at the nipple to try and slow the flow of milk
  • Baby has green, loose, or explosive stools

If you notice any new or worsening symptoms when breastfeeding, be sure to speak with a healthcare provider. 

Do I Have an Oversupply of Milk if I Am Leaking?

Milk leaking frequently from the breasts may be a sign that you are producing too much breast milk. [2] However, there are many other reasons to notice some occasional leaking. For example, it’s normal to experience some leaking immediately after nursing or when you think, hear, or smell your baby. [4] This is your body’s way of preparing to breastfeed and is known as the let-down reflex. So, occasional leaking may not be anything to worry about, but if you are frequently leaking milk, you should consult a healthcare provider. 

Causes of Oversupply

Oversupply can happen naturally in some people and may not be tied to a specific cause. In fact, some research suggests that genetics could play a role in hyperlactation syndrome. [3] However, certain behaviors can stimulate milk production, potentially leading to an oversupply, such as [1-3]:

  • Frequent, short feedings
  • Regularly pumping 
  • Pumping early on in the postpartum period
  • Stopping an infant from feeding early in order to switch breasts
  • Taking certain medications or supplements

An overactive thyroid can also contribute to oversupply. [2] Check certain hormone levels with a women’s fertility test or see a provider to get your thyroid checked. You should also speak to a lactation consultant or another healthcare provider about your breastfeeding and pumping routine. They may be able to help you pinpoint what could be causing your oversupply or how to decrease supply. 

Effects of Oversupply on Mom and Baby

Breast milk oversupply can cause some troubling symptoms for mom and baby, making the breastfeeding experience uncomfortable. Not only can oversupply be painful, but your baby’s digestion and nutrition may be impacted. Here are some potential effects of breast milk oversupply.

Effects of Oversupply on the Mother

Oversupply of milk means your body is producing more milk than is necessary to feed your infant. While this may sound like a good problem to have, there are some negative effects that can disrupt the breastfeeding process [1-3]: 

  • Swelling, fullness, or pain in the breast and nipples
  • Difficulty emptying breasts during feedings
  • Frequent mastitis, clogged ducts, and nipple blebs
  • Cracked and sore nipples (Natalist has you covered with breastfeeding-safe nipple balm
  • Frequently leaking milk

Effects of Oversupply on the Baby

When someone is overproducing milk, it can be difficult for the baby to suckle and nurse at a comfortable pace. It’s also common for a baby to take in more foremilk (milk that flows in the beginning of a breastfeeding session, high in lactose) than hindmilk (milk that flows at the end of a breastfeeding session, high in fat) which can lead to some digestion problems. [2-3] Some effects your baby may experience include [2-3]:

  • Coughing or choking
  • Clamping down on the nipple
  • Stiffening
  • Gassiness
  • Loose or green stools
  • Diaper rash
  • Frequent spitting up
  • Bloody stools
  • Abnormal weight gain or weight loss

It’s always best to check in with a provider if you notice any changes in your child’s behavior or health. 

How Do You Control Oversupply of Breast Milk?

Breast milk oversupply can be uncomfortable and difficult to manage. Fortunately, there are some ways to reduce milk production and encourage a positive breastfeeding experience. Keep in mind that a provider and/or lactation consultant should always be consulted before making any changes to your breastfeeding routine. 

  • Block feeding [2,3,5]: Block feeding is a way of nursing that involves alternating breasts for certain time blocks throughout the day and night. The length of time can vary, but is often about a three-hour window. This decreases the amount of breast stimulation, which slows milk production and ensures your baby is receiving hindmilk and foremilk. Some research shows that full drainage of both breasts before starting block feeding can be especially helpful. 
  • Decrease or avoid pumping [2,3]: Milk production tends to work by supply and demand. The more you nurse or pump, the more the body will produce. If you can, try to gradually reduce pumping or hand expressing between feeds. If your breasts are too painful or engorged to wait, only pump until you are comfortable enough to wait for the next feeding. This isn’t the most comfortable process, but it will help your boy slow down milk production.
  • Give your baby control [2,3]: Instead of feeding on a set schedule or timing your feedings, allow your baby to control when they are nursing. This will help your body adjust to your infant’s needs. 
  • Change your position [3]: A side-lying or laid back breastfeeding position may help slow how quickly your milk is flowing. This can make nursing more comfortable for your baby and may lead to a longer feed.
  • Medications, topical products, and supplements [3,6]: Certain medications, topical products, and dietary supplements may encourage a decrease in milk supply. These include birth control pills, topical peppermint oil, sage, or jasmine, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, and others. We always recommend talking to your OBGYN and pediatrician about what makes sense for you. Never take or use any new products without consulting a provider. 

Learn more about weaning from breastfeeding, or get more tips on drying up breast milk. 

Support Postpartum Life With Natalist

The postpartum period is a time of change, healing, bonding, and learning more about yourself and your little one. Whether it’s your first time breastfeeding or your umpteenth time, there are many new experiences that can come your way. Natalist is proudly led by a team of moms, doctors, and parents who understand the ups and downs of fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum life. If you are breastfeeding or recently postpartum and are interested in nutritional support, you should speak to a healthcare provider about taking Postnatal Vitamins. You can also bundle and save on postnatal vitamins and nipple balm with our breastfeeding kit


References:

  1. Eglash A. Treatment of maternal hypergalactia. Breastfeed Med. 2014;9(9):423-425. doi:10.1089/bfm.2014.0133
  2. Breastfeeding Info Oversupply. La Leche League International. Accessed January 2024. https://llli.org/breastfeeding-info/oversupply/
  3. Hyperlactation Syndrome. Cleveland Clinic. November 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/hyperlactation
  4. Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. SESSION 2, The physiological basis of breastfeeding.
  5. van Veldhuizen-Staas, C.G. Overabundant milk supply: an alternative way to intervene by full drainage and block feeding. Int Breastfeed J 2, 11 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4358-2-11
  6. Eglash A. Treatment of Maternal Hypergalactia. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2014;9(9):423-425. doi:https://doi.org/10.1089/bfm.2014.0133

Dr. Kenosha Gleaton is board-certified in gynecology and obstetrics and is the Medical Advisor of Natalist. She received her MD from MUSC and completed her residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

Dr. Gleaton is passionate about women, health equity, and mentoring. She is the CEO of The EpiCentre, an OBGYN spa-like practice, and is a Clinical faculty member of Charleston Southern University. She is also a member of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, and the American Association of Professional Women.

Shop Products

sticker bestseller

Prenatal Daily Packets

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$60

Subscribe & Save $2.00 sticker favorite

The Lube

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$23

sticker bestseller

Prenatal Gummies

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$35

sticker bestseller

Early Pregnancy Test Strips

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$74 $16

sticker bestseller

Prenatal Gummies

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$35

sticker bestseller

CoQ10 Liquid Capsules

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$35

sticker bestseller

Prenatal Daily Packets

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$60

Inositol Plus

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$35

sticker bestseller

Early Pregnancy Test Strips

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$74 $16

sticker save

The Test Strip Pack

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$37

sticker favorite

Ovulation Test Kit

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$25

sticker bestseller

Pregnancy Tests (4-Count)

20% off with code EARTHDAY

$16