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Thread: Am I doing it right? - Heavy let down

  1. #1

    Unhappy Am I doing it right? - Heavy let down

    I seem to be having problems only with my left breast which has an extremely heavy letdown. Once the milk has let down, I am having to spraying into a towel for about a good 15-20 seconds before having my little one latch on. Sometimes during the feeding he'll start choking and it seems to be spraying again.

    My left breast has a lot more milk than my right as well, and my right breast has regulated itself to the demands of the baby, so I don't want to pump my left breast before feeding him. I read on kellymom that it's okay to pump no longer than 30 seconds before a feeding, or to pump an hour before a feeding, but I don't want to tell my body to make more milk via my left side (is this possible!?).

    I'm at a lost, and feel a little frustrated with myself. I feel like I am going to end up drowning the poor baby when I am feeding him with my left breast because I know he's getting a bit more of the foremilk than the hindmilk (he has some green mixed in with his poo).

    He's only 3 weeks old, and he's my first, so I'm sure it will all be trial and error, but with such a heavy let down, I feel like I won't be able to properly breastfeed him in public either because of such a heavy let down with my left breast.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Am I doing it right? - Heavy let down

    Hi crystal sage. Welcome to the forum! Congratulations on your brand new little one!

    Are you doing it right? Well, is baby having ok weight gain? Getting lots of love and snuggles and kisses? If you can answer yes to both, there is no doubt you are doing it exactly right!

    fast letdown can be a bother. I have been there, with all three of my kiddos. But it is not really a problem. PLEASE do not worry about hindmilk and foremilk. The fairly recent discovery that breastmilk subtly changes in makeup during a nursing session, and also changes throughout the day, and over the weeks and months of nursing, all in order to best meet baby's changing needs, is just more proof of what a wonderful complex miracle the act of nursing our babies is. We moms got along fine for thousands of years having no idea about this. Foremilk and hindmilk and how much of each baby is getting each time baby nurses is just not something a mother needs to worry about. All your milk is good for your baby. Every drop!

    If the overproduction/forceful letdown seems to be bothering you or baby, there are a few simple steps to take. 1) gently encourage baby to nurse frequently. The less time between nursing sessions, the less buildup of milk, so the less forceful the letdown is likely to be.
    Nurse with your body in a semi-reclined position, with baby more or less on top. This lets gravity help stem the flow. Plus, it's comfortable for mom and secure feeling for baby. And keep doing this:
    Once the milk has let down, I am having to spraying into a towel for about a good 15-20 seconds before having my little one latch on.
    Perfect!
    And let baby nurse when he wants (but you can encourage him to nurse again if it's been a while) for as long as he wants, and on one side at a time, unless baby indicates he wants to switch sides.

    Give yourself time. In the first 4-6 weeks, your body is ramping up milk production. Your body and baby are communicating and figuring out how much milk baby will need going forward. By cue feeding-nursing as much as baby likes for as long as baby likes, your body gets to know your baby so it makes enough milk but not too much. So it may be a few more weeks until this calms down. It's ok!

    Oh and bring lots of nice big 'burp cloths' for nip. One for you leaking, one for baby spiting up, one for a cover (if you want to use a cover.) They make some really cute ones, but I just use the large 'unfolded' cloth diapers.

    There is probably no need to bother with a pump. You probably don't need to bother with that at all. You could, if you like, hand express a little milk instead to get that initial letdown out before latching baby.

    laid back breastfeeding : http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfeeding.pdf

    Hand expression: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...expression.pdf

  3. #3

    Default Re: Am I doing it right? - Heavy let down

    Hi, lllmeg, and thanks for your reply.

    I have been using the laid back breastfeeding for my left breast but the heavy letdown still happens. I've been trying multiple ways to breastfeed him on this breast but whichever way I try, the milk is forcefully spraying out. Sometimes during the feed, even after the initial heavy letdown, it'll start heavily spraying again. Is this normal? Could it possibly just be that my left breast is producing so much milk that even after the letdown it'll continue to spray?

    I feel like I exasperated the problem when my milk first came in. My left breast was so engorged he hurt that I would take a hot shower and then pump it until it didn't hurt anymore, and I ended up pumping about close to five ounces of milk. My right breast was fine because he was feeding fine on it.

    If I am waking him up every 2 hours to feed so that my breasts aren't engorged, wouldn't I be overfeeding him? Especially if he's not wanting the breast every 2 hours? What are indicators that he wants the other side? I generally feed him one side per feeding, and with my left breast, I sometimes I have to have him feed on it twice before switching for the next feeding.

    If after the 6 weeks it doesn't seem to be getting any better, should I contact a lactation consultant?

    Again, thanks for your reply!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Am I doing it right? - Heavy let down

    Hello,
    I am new to posting here, but I had a very similar problem when my son was about that same age (he's now 5 months, also my first child). I had such a heavy let-down that both breasts would spray and saturate the baby, me, my clothing, and the chair I was in. I went through a LOT of those disposable breast pads. I had a much stronger supply on my right side than on my left. In those first few weeks, I would feed him from both sides at each feeding because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. Once I started feeding him only from one side, I used the left more often and put cool washcloths on the right breast. It all balanced out by the time he was about 8 or 10 weeks old. I still produce more milk from my right side than my left (I went back to work 2 months ago and pump at work) but it is not anywhere near as dramatic of a difference as it was early on. I was frustrated at how uncomfortable I was when I was engorged (and lopsided!) but I found a lot of pride and comfort in knowing that I was not going to have the low-quantity problems that several of my friends and co-workers seemed to have.
    I don't know if any of this helps or not, but know that you are not alone

  5. #5

    Default Re: Am I doing it right? - Heavy let down

    Thank you so much for your reply. I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear that someone has gone through something similar and it worked out all right for them, in turn, hoping it will work all right for me too. Here is hoping that my milk production will sort itself out.

    The only question I have is what is the purpose of the cool washcloth? Is it to help relieve the pain? How long did you leave it on? And was it only during feedings?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Am I doing it right? - Heavy let down

    I did the cool washcloth thing because I read somewhere that you should put warm compresses on your breasts if you are trying to stimulate let-down and use cool compresses if you are trying to slow production or reduce inflammation. I heard in several places that putting cabbage leaves in the freezer and then tucking those into your bra is helpful for some reason... I never tried this, mainly because I never got around to buying any cabbage. I cool compressed the overproductive breast for about 10 minutes once or twice a day for a couple of weeks. I found it was easier to do compresses when I wasn't nursing, simply because I felt like I already had a lot of stuff to deal with every time I nursed (boppy, receiving blankets, water bottle for me, et c). I did end up buying these things called "Boobie tubes" made by Earth Mama Angel Baby. They are soft cotton tubes filled with flax seeds, and you can either freeze them or zap them in the microwave. I still use them (warm) from time to time just because they feel good, not for any specific purpose. I won't say that they solved all my problems or anything, but they are nice. Got them from Target.com.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Am I doing it right? - Heavy let down

    the milk is forcefully spraying out. Sometimes during the feed, even after the initial heavy letdown, it'll start heavily spraying again. Is this normal? Could it possibly just be that my left breast is producing so much milk that even after the letdown it'll continue to spray?
    yes and yes. it's normal. milk spray esp. in the early weeks is normal and copious milk spray is a normal aspect of overproduction.


    If I am waking him up every 2 hours to feed so that my breasts aren't engorged, wouldn't I be overfeeding him?
    I know it would seem that way. And would baby gets more milk overall? Maybe a little more. But that is not overfeeding. And theoretically what happens when nursing baby more frequently is that baby gets smaller feedings more often. This is good for baby and mom. No baby is going to get overfed at the breast because extracting milk from the breast requires baby’s effort and cooperation (unlike bottles which drip or pour down an infant’s throat unless they are given in a very careful and specific way.)

    Nursing at least every two hours is the norm in the early weeks anyway. If your baby is not doing this, it is perfectly fine to encourage baby to nurse more often. I did exactly this from week two through about week five with my baby after a bout with mastitis and an enormous plug from engorgement. Since my baby tended to sleep long stretches at night, making the issues much worse, I started waking her to nurse every two hours at night, set a phone alarm under the pillow and all. She was fine. Sometimes she nursed just a tiny bit of course. Sometimes she did not nurse at all. If I could not get her to nurse, I hand expressed. But I only recall having to do this a very few times. Gently awoken and encouraged, she nursed. Did she NEED to nurse? No. When a mom has overproduction, baby will often get enough milk to gain normally even if nursing infrequently. But I needed her to nurse, and it did her no harm. Healthy, normal breastfeeding is a two way street. What about when there were no pumps or time to fuss around with hand expressing? Mothers would just nurse their babies when THEY felt the need. A full breast is a signal to nurse just as much as a baby’s cues are.
    What are indicators that he wants the other side?
    If baby pulls off one side after nursing long enough that you feel that some milk has been extracted, you can try switching baby to the other side. There really is no hard and fast rules about this, you will learn your baby’s signals in time.

    I generally feed him one side per feeding, and with my left breast, I sometimes I have to have him feed on it twice before switching for the next feeding.
    Do you mena, your left breast remains so full after one session you have to nurse again on the same side? This is where more frequent nursing overall may help. It makes sense what you are doing, but by feeding twice in a row on the over producing side, that may continue to 'unevenly' increase production on that side. Which you don’t want, right? So if you can, maybe try at least starting on the right at every other session and maybe hand expressing a bit on the left while baby nurses on the right, to relieve extra pressure on the left?

    You should contact a lactation consultant anytime you think the situation warrants it. If you continue to be worried, or if things are getting worse not better, etc. I would not set a time frame. Go if and when you think you need to. Some things an IBCLC may be able to help you with is to see if maybe latch issues are part of the problem. (That was part of the issue for me-my more engorged side not only produced more, it also did not leak like the other did, and baby had a more difficult time extracting milk from that side-I had bad latch pain only on that side as well.) I needed help figuring out how to get an optimal latch on that side so baby could extract milk better.

    Also if you are thinking of starting a 'block nursing' protocol to reduce production on that side, it might be smart to do so under the guidance of an IBCLC. There is also an overproduction protocol called 'full drainage and block feeding' which involves pumping one time until you are 'empty' and then starting block feeding. This is something that you could discuss with your IBCLC if that might be appropriate.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; May 18th, 2013 at 01:24 PM.

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