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Thread: Let down comes quick / too much for baby - HELP PLEASE!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Let down comes quick / too much for baby - HELP PLEASE!

    I am a first time mom and I'm breastfeeding my LO (2 weeks old today). So far the experience has been great - he has a great latch-on, I am producing milk well, and he is having an adequate amount of wet and dirty diapers!

    For the past few days, I've noticed that when my LO begins to feed, my let-down comes so quickly and the milk flows so fast that he has a hard time keeping up. He begins to gulp when swallowing and chokes. This isn't such a problem during the day because I can regulate it by pumping a little off before he eats and he does great. But at night, it creates a problem it seems. He sleeps 3 to 3 1/2 hours usually and it's hard to know when I need to pump because I don't know when he is going to wake to eat. So when he eats during the night, the choking occurs and if he hasn't had enough I have trouble getting him to latch back on because he is sleepy. Then I find myself up an hour later feeding him again because he doesn't have a full belly to stay asleep. Is there anything I can do differently?

    When will his eating habits change? For instance, when will he start spacing out his daytime feedings more and not eat every 2-3 hours? When will my milk supply adjust? I find that when I wake in the mornings, I have to pump because I am so full. I usually can pump at least 4-5 oz in less than 5 minutes - THAT'S CRAZY TO ME

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Let down comes quick / too much for baby - HELP PLEASE!

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby and on making it to 2 weeks of nursing!

    Rapid letdowns are usually caused by milk oversupply. Oversupply is normal when you're just starting out; it's nature's way of ensuring the baby gets fed while mastering the art of breastfeeding. But you definitely don't want to be dealing with it in the long term, because it's a waste of energy to produce all that extra milk, and making extra puts you at increased risk for plugged ducts and mastitis. Also, as you have been experiencing, rapid letdowns make nursing more difficult for the baby, particularly when he's so young and small.

    Here's what to do about rapid letdowns:
    1. Shelve the pump. Unless you have an undersupply problem, or a non-latching baby, 2 weeks is too early to be pumping. Every time you remove milk from the breast, you're telling your body that it needs to be making that amount of milk again. Pump off a couple of oz before feeding and you're going to make that same extra amount the next time. Leave that extra milk in the breast, and your body will eventually get the message that it is making too much, and your supply will go down.
    2. If not pumping is making you so uncomfortable that you can't stand it, try hand-expressing or pumping just enough milk to restore comfort. Don't try to empty the breast. Remember, all additional milk removal from and stimulation to the breast will create more supply. Let your baby nurse on demand and you will make the right amount.
    3. If baby is struggling with a fast flow, try nursing in reclined positions. Some moms nurse lying flat on their backs, with baby on top. Reclining enlists gravity to slow your milk flow, making nursing more comfortable for the baby.
    4. If baby is choking and coughing during your letdown, and pulls off, that's okay. Just let the extra milk spray into a towel, and when the flow slows, latch baby back on.
    5. Feed baby more frequently, not less. Small, frequent feedings are normal for babies and help mom avoid engorgement.
    6. If you take the above steps and are still having issues after 3-6 weeks, let us know and we'll talk to you about block feeding. There's no magical point at which your supply will adjust- it's different for every mom- but after breastfeeding is well established and you and baby are more comfortable with each other, then you can start tweaking your breastfeeding management a bit.

    Don't expect your baby to transition to feeding every 2-3 hours at some magical turning point. As I mentioned above, small, frequent feedings are normal for breastfed babies, and plenty of babies never make a shift to feeding at well-defined, predictable intervals. My girls, for example, fed every 1-2 hours during the day throughout their first year and into their second- unless they were out and about in some interesting place, in which case they might go 2-3 hours.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Northern Cal.

    Default Re: Let down comes quick / too much for baby - HELP PLEASE!

    I too am blessed with "firehose boobs." We used to joke that my first baby had to chug like a frat boy to keep up the flow.

    Completely agree. While the pumping makes intuitive sense, it makes your body think you need to be making more milk, so it can actually create oversupply, which will only make your letdown come faster and heavier! So it actually makes the problem worse. You are better off latching baby on, then unlatching and letting the letdown flow into a towel. Or just letting baby unlatch himself to sputter a bit - I was comforted to know that babies don't actually choke on milk even if it looks like it - babies choke on solids, not liquids.

    Babies DO grow into that strong flow. So even if you do absolutely nothing about it, it will get better on its own. After a month or so, the OALD (overactive letdown) usually calms down a bit, and baby gets big enough that they actually enjoy the fast flow and gulp it down with gusto! So while it can be trying in the early weeks, while your baby is so small it's hard for them to stay latched on, it's really not a "problem" for most babies.

    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

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