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Thread: can block feeding ever led to low supply

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Default can block feeding ever led to low supply


    I'm trying to sort through the confusion that is over supply. My basic question is the one in the subject line, but I have a couple more as well. Here's some background info:

    Breastfeeding got off to a pretty good start. Milk started to come in two days after my 6 wk old was born. She seemed to latch pretty good right away, but by two weeks, decided to see the LC because it was hurting for her to latch on the right side, but only some of the time. We got that fixed, and I mentioned to the LC that she would get fussy during some of her feedings, and while she didn't explicitly mention oversupply, she suggested letting her feed off of one side at a time, so that she could get to the 'cheesecake'. Looking back, I was feeding her off of both sides, and not allowing enough time on each side. So by three weeks or so, I started to notice a couple green poops here and there, and my midwife had mentioned that this could be a sign of not getting enough hindmilk. I finally put all the pieces together, and got to the part in the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding where they talk about oversupply, possibly OALD, and it definitely seemed to fit her: fussy at the breast, green poops (not frothy or mucousy though), and she sounded like she was under water when she fussed-- milk would be streaming out of her mouth even; engorgement was an issue, but not bad all the time. She has been gaining weight like a champ, which I think they also mentioned could go hand in hand with oversupply. (She is up to 10lbs, 13oz today--at birth she was 7lbs, 3oz) So I started block feeding. The little bit that I did seemed to help, no more green poops, she was back to be her happy self, and the engorgement was greatly reduced. (still leaking, but c'est la vie) Well, the past couple days she has gotten much more fussy, and sounding under water again, no green poops (yet), and I'm starting to get engorged again randomly after having the softest floppiest boobs ever. . So I'm thinking oversupply is starting to become an issue again? She nurses quite frequently-- 18-20 times in a 24 hour period. She seems pretty efficient, nursing for only 5-10 minutes on one side and seems pretty content with one side. Since she nurses so frequently, and only for 5-10 minutes, I'll offer the same side a couple times in a row, not sure if that would constitute block feeding or not. When I was doing what I thought to be block feeding, I went several hours on one side before switching--primarily because the engorgement was getting to me--is this correct block feeding technique? Anyway, I half-heartedly starting block feeding this afternoon but stopped because the engorgement on the right boob was getting so painful. So long story short, should I keep block feeding, and put ice packs on the engorged boob? When should I switch sides? And back to my original question: Can one block feed too much and cause a low supply? I think that's what's subconsciously keeping me from block feeding for longer periods of time, thinking that I could somehow hurt my milk supply. Poor girl has been soo fussy today--and just when she eats too

    Sorry this turned into such a long and drawn out post. Thanks in advance to anyone who makes it to the end AND has advice for me!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: can block feeding ever led to low su

    Yes, block feeding can potentially lead to low supply. Leaving milk in the breast for a long period of time signals the body to decrease production in the unused breast. If a mom with low or adequate supply block feeds, she can get herself in trouble in a hurry. A mom with oversupply- and it sounds like you are one of them- has a lot more leeway. She generally has to block feed for a lot longer in order to get her supply lowered to the point of inadequacy.

    One thing I noticed when I was managing an oversupply was that it was a two steps forward, one step back process. I'd think I had the oversupply managed, only to have it return for what seemed like no reason at all. So just when I thought I was done block feeding, I'd have to do it again.

    When you block feed, you want to feed off of one breast only for a good long while before switching to using the other breast. So, what's a good long while? For some moms with relatively minor oversupply, it's just one feeding. For others, those with more severe oversupply, it's several feedings in a row. Often a mom will need to do long blocks at certain times of day when her milk is more abundant, and shorter blocks at other times of day (particularly in the evenings, when many women notice a dip in supply). If block feeding is resulting in painful engorgement of the unused side, you have several options for managing the problem:
    - Put up with it.
    - Manage the discomfort with cold packs, cabbage leaves, etc.
    - Nurse off the engorged side. This won't do much for the oversupply issue, but it will relieve the discomfort.
    - Hand express (or pump out) the minimum amount of milk needed to restore comfort. This will restore comfort and still allow your milk supply to decrease, albeit at a slower rate than if you just put up with the engorgement.

    When managing oversupply, don't expect results overnight or in a hurry. Just take it slow and steady and don't get discouraged. You will reach your goal if you're persistent and patient.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Houston, TX

    Default Re: can block feeding ever led to low su

    I had severe OS/OALD so for me block feeding required 2-3 feedings on one side before switching. And when I would notice a drop in supply, I'd switch sides with every feeding maybe 3-4 feedings and it would get back up there. Unfortunately, then I had to deal with clogged ducts, but like pp said hand expressing helped relieve the discomfort.
    Also, eating oatmeal increases supply so I had to avoid it completely...half a bowl made me get engorged within hours!!
    Another thing that helped me prevent clogged ducts from my OS/OALD was taking Soy Lecithin supplements. My case was pretty severe, so I had to take it 3x/day if not, my body could tell.
    In my situation, I really had to block feed DD even at about 15mths old! Not until then did it start "stabilizing", which I think also had to do with my AF returning (after 2yrs of MIA).
    Good luck mama
    I'm a SAHM to
    #1 Alyssa 5/26/09 BF for exactly 25 1/2mths
    #2 Emily 11/7/11 completely self-weaned at 20 mths
    #3 Victoria 12/16/13

    New sights, new goals, new directions...

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