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Thread: pumping creating oversupply?

  1. #1

    Default pumping creating oversupply?

    I have recently returned to work three days per week and have been pumping every 2.5 hours while I am away from my baby. Ever since he has started taking the pumped bottles, his stool has been green and he has been fussy at the breast. When I am with him, he usually eats ever 2 hours during the day, but only from one side each feeding. When I pump, I pump both sides. Am I creating an oversupply by pumping more than he normally eats? I think he is getting too much foremilk causing the green stools. Should I alternate sides each pump session to mimic what we do at home?
    During my work days I usually get about 18 oz (4-5 oz combined per session) He consumes about 12 oz during the 9 hours I am away from him.
    I've also been pumping once in the morning on the days I am with him.
    I am trying to think of a safe way to reduce my supply so he is more comfortable and getting the nutrition he needs.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    24,910

    Default Re: oversupply from pumping?

    It's possible that pumping both breasts at work is stimulating some oversupply. Since you're getting around 6 more oz per day than baby consumes, you could continue to pump both breasts but simply take less milk out each time you pump. There's no reason to pump until you're completely empty if you have no trouble with supply.

    One thing you don't need to worry about is baby "getting the nutrition he needs". All milk- both the so-called foremilk and the so-called hindmilk- contains all the nutrients that babies need to grow and develop. The milk that comes out when the breast is relatively full is a bit more watery and higher in lactose (milk sugar) than the milk that comes out when the breast is relatively empty, but the differences in composition are relatively minor and would not affect your baby's health in any way. Green poops and gas from taking in too much lactose are an annoyance, but not a health problem.

  3. #3

    Default Re: oversupply from pumping?

    Thanks Mommal-
    I don't have a super crazy supply, but I have noticed it increasing since I started pumping at work. My son gets a little irritable at the breast sometimes too, so I am trying to tone the supply down a little rather than continue to increase it. I tried to alternate sides yesterday pumping, but last night, my left side was super painful and engorged , which is a problem I have never had before. I am wondering if it would be better to a)continue to alternate breasts and pump every 2.5 hours like I did yesterday b) pump both breasts , but don't empty, just pump what I need or c) pump both breasts less frequently.
    I pump in the mornings on the days I am with him too, so I already have a stash built up. I could drop the morning pump but I usually go and run or workout and it feels much better after I pump. I am just looking for a gradual way to reduce it some to make the experience better for me and baby, but not too drastic so I go in the opposite direction where I have an undersupply issue.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: oversupply from pumping?

    You asked a great question, one that's really hard to answer because individual results will vary. Some moms will do best if they stick to pumping 1 breast at a time, some will do better if they pump both sides but remove less milk, and some will do better with longer intervals between sessions. My instinct is that option b, where you pump both sides at a normal interval but you don't pump to emptiness, is best, because it means that you remove milk more frequently, and neither breast goes too long without milk removal. Going too long between pumps and leaving a lot of milk sitting in the breast is a recipe for plugged ducts or discomfort and supply reduction for a lot of moms. So I think option b is the way to gradually throttle back on supply without risking undersupply. Does that make sense?

  5. #5

    Default Re: oversupply from pumping?

    Yes, makes sense. I will play around with it and see what works. I tried alternating yesterday and my left breast still hurts, so I don't think that is my best option. I guess I just need to pay attention to the amount I am pumping and make sure to pump just enough or just a little more than I need vs. as much as I can. FWIW , his stool was getting back to mustard color today so I don't think the green stool was even related since I haven't changed anything yet and he drank pumped milk from last Friday. Do you think there is any way to get away from the early morning pump on the days I am home from work, or should I still pump at that time, but just enough to relieve the pressure?

  6. #6
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: oversupply from pumping?

    If morning pumping makes you feel better when you exercise, I would keep on doing it. I just wouldn't pump all the way to emptiness, unless emptiness is what is required to make you feel okay when working out. I mean, on the one hand the pumping is probably perpetuating a bit of a morning oversupply. On the other hand, comfort is important, too!

    Your baby is still pretty young, right? My guess is that this problem will gradually diminish as time goes on, because that is what usually happens with oversupply. Either the baby grows into the supply you have and stops being bothered by fast flow, or mom's supply naturally adjusts to be just right. Since you're working, socking away some milk in the freezer and maintaining a small oversupply are not the worst things in the world- it's usually better to have a bit of extra milk than to worry about not having enough.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    10,152

    Default Re: pumping creating oversupply?

    Hello and welcome!

    How old is baby?

    Is there some reason you are pumping in the morning while with baby?

    A little overproduction is usually not really a bad thing, green poops can be normal, and too much foremilk (again, not usually anything serious) is usually easily dealt with by encouraging baby to nurse frequently. Fast letdown that might cause fussiness is also helped by nursing more frequently.

    However, if you think you have a fast letdown due to overproduction and that is causing baby to be unhappy with nursing, no reason to not correct that by reducing pumping. The safest way to do that is gradually. I would suggest, try eliminating the morning at-home pump session (unless there is some compelling reason you want to keep pumping at that time) and then, as needed, gradually reduce how often you pump at work (and/or, how long you pump for each time) until your daily pump output is more in line with how much baby typically needs when you are at work. For 9 hour separation, 12 ounces sounds right.

    I suppose you could alternate sides, but at some point you may find that you need to go back to pumping both sides at once in order to get enough milk in the time you have to pump. It might be safer and more time efficient to just keep pumping both sides at once. There is no reason to precisely mimic how baby would presumably nurse when with you when pumping.

  8. #8

    Default Re: oversupply from pumping?

    Thanks mommal
    Yes, he is 3 mos. and I just went back to work so I think my supply probably will adjust. Thanks for all your help.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Default Re: oversupply from pumping?

    Let us know how it goes!

  10. #10

    Default Re: oversupply from pumping?

    Thanks! After I alternated breasts at each pump on Monday, my left breast got neglected and was super painful that night (plugged duct I am assuming). It feels better now, but milk production has gone way down on that side- I am only getting about 1 oz every two hours from the left while the right is still overproducing. So overall, I am still getting plenty of milk, but just now waiting for the left side to get back up to speed (it no longer hurts so I am hoping it will just take a few days) So, I am back to pumping both sides each time now and focusing on at least draining the left side. Baby's poops are back to a yellow/brown and he seems less gassy (although feeding more than normal at night- I think there is a 3 month growth spurt??)

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