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Thread: do I have an oversupply problem?

  1. #1
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    Apr 2006
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    Default do I have an oversupply problem?

    Hello everyone, this is my first post. I'm hoping you can offer some advice to a first time mom.

    My baby is 9 weeks old and for the past 10 days or so has been having problems nursing. From birth she always had a good latch on, and seemed to suck very well, averaging about 10 minutes on one breast per feeding. My breasts were very full and leaked a lot in the first weeks. Over the past few weeks they have decreased in size slightly, leak less, and I *feel* like they are producing less milk. However, my baby in the past 2 weeks started behaving strangely at the breast and I wonder if it may be related to oversupply: instead of latching on and staying latched, she latches on, sucks, and and then releases the nipple, then latches, sucks and releases, etc. during the whole feeding. Also, one or two feedings a day she will nurse for a few minutes and then begin to cry hysterically. I try to burp her, but regardless of whether she burps or not, she doesn't seem relieved and refuses to keep nursing. Once I take her away from the breast she usually calms down, but sometimes I need to give her a pacifier to satisfy the suck urge. Lastly, she rarely nurses for as long as 10 minutes anymore—more like 6-8 minutes. She goes about 2-4 hours between feedings during the day and slightly longer at night.

    At our last visit to the doctor two weeks ago her weight gain was normal, but since then the problems have started so I can't tell if this is causing her to gain less weight. Another thing I have noticed lately is that her poops are mostly green and only occasionally yellow, which is something that apparently may indicate she's not getting enough hindmilk.

    I guess the most distressing thing to me is the fact that she keeps letting go of the nipple during nursing, and is nursing for shorter periods. Could this be an oversupply problem or is it something else?

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    Hi there ~ From what you describe, it does not necessarily sound like an oversupply issue. Green poop can be an indication that baby is receiving more foremilk than hindmilk but green poop is also a perfectly normal color variation. Is your baby gaining weight rapidly? That can sometimes be an indication of too much foremilk. What about when your milk let's down -- does it spray out forcefully?

    Some babies have a very strong urge to suck and when they try to meet their sucking needs at the breast can become frustrated because they're also receiving milk. Sometimes a pinky finger (or a pacifier) can be useful for this type of baby. So if doing this works for you, then great! I'd just caution that you use the pacifier sparingly and only when you know for certain that your baby just needs to suck.

    Babies can be very efficient when it comes to nursing, getting everything they need in 5 minutes or less. So as long as your baby is gaining weight adequately (about 5-7 ounces per week) then you can be assured that she's getting enough. A good way to tell that she's gaining weight is to keep an eye on her wet diapers. She should be having about 5-6 sopping wet diapers per day. After about the 6 week mark some breastfed babies will only have a bowel movement every few days and sometimes very infrequently. But as long as she seems to otherwise be doing well then it's okay for her not to be pooping very often.

    Finally, have you had her evaluated for thrush and/or an ear infection? Those could be reasons for baby to pop on and off the breast.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    Dear Carol, thanks so much for your advice. I do think sometimes my baby needs to suck and doesn't want the milk that comes with it, and thus cries. It's at times like these that I give her a pacifier, as much as I hate to do so. She also pees a good amount, I think—every diaper is wet when I change it (every 3 hours or so) and 1 out of 2 has poop as well (albeit green, usually).

    I just nursed her with her in a sitting up position (thanks to advice I saw on this forum) and she seemed to stay latched on better than usual. I also checked out the nipple while she was pulled off and I saw that there was a teeny stream of milk spraying out. After a few moments, that stopped and the nipple was just dripping. She only nursed for 7 minutes and seemed content afterwards (though she did spit up a tablespoon or so with her burp).

    I don't think she has thrush or an ear infection—the doc checked her last week and she doesn't seem to have any discomfort.

    Perhaps the crying and the short feedings/pulling off are separate issues. I still wonder if maybe she is having trouble dealing with the milk flow?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    Does she ever get bottles? If so, that could be the culprit. Otherwise, it could just be that when she does ask to nurse, she's famished and is impatient with your let down. Maybe simply trying to nurse her a few minutes before you think she'll be hungry will be helpful? And yes, I didn't mention it before but trying different positions can sometimes resolve issues as well. Babies will often develop a position preference.

    If your milk is spraying out fast and forcefully then that could be a reason for her pulling off. But when she does this, you'll probably be spraying her in the face with milk so you'd know if it was forceful But she only pulls off sometimes, right? Not every feeding?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    Actually, she has been pulling off pretty much every feeding for over a week now. It seems to be her new MO. I wonder if it's the pacifier that could be influencing the way she sucks. She's been given the pacifier on and off since she was a couple weeks old (the pediatrician said it can help prevent SIDS and encouraged us to use one) but has been needing it more lately. She has only had a bottle (of expressed milk) once, and that was weeks ago, so that's probably not the culprit.
    Though today I saw the milk spraying a teeny stream when I checked the nipple, I have never noticed it spraying in her face. I have however noticed that a lot of the time when the lets go of the nipple during feeding she has milk leaking out the sides of her mouth. Because of this I always have to have a burp cloth below my breast to catch the runoff.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    OK, well you might try using a different position to see if that helps things. Sometimes with mom's with an over-active let down it is suggested that she use gravity to her advantage. So maybe try nursing with baby on top of you while you lay down. You could also try pumping (or hand-expressing) until your milk let's down to see if she's more content with that.

    Babies do suck differently on a pacifier than they do a breast but if she's "confused" at all, you'd probably be feeling nipple pain. Plus, if she's had a pacifier for several weeks now and this behavior is new it probably isn't associated with the pacifier.

    Take a look in baby's mouth today though - do you see any white spots on her cheeks or lips?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    Nope, no white spots in her mouth. Today I was feeding her in the regular cradle position and she not only let go a lot, but coughed and sputtered a little. Last night I nursed her in the lying down size position and she seemed to nurse well (though I was kind of dozing off myself). Seems pretty hard to pinpoint why she keeps spitting out the nipple during nursing. But as for the crying issue, I think it's a combination of fussiness and the need to suck. A pacifier usually does the trick when this happens, though I hate to use it!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    Hi Fozzie,

    I have been having the same issues with my little one, 9 weeks.
    It came to a head about 4 weeks ago when she did have an ear infection! But she does tha same pulling off and crying and becoming so upset at the breast, it's so sad. Especially bc with my son (now 3) the breast was the cure-all fix everything!

    I have begun seriously limiting the pacifier to just her cranky time (6-9 pm) and then only when she's definitley not even maybe hungry! I have found that the less I use the pacifier the better she nurses. But when 'boob rage' as we call it, strikes I have found it is better to remove her from the breast immediately or she just gets more and more upset at it and I don't want to encourage that feeling of frustartion at a place where I want her to feel happy and peaceful. I have also found that feeding her when she is half asleep is very useful, she latches well and nurses for longer. She had major gas and gurgles as a tiny infant so I was not able to slde lie with her, now she seems to be through that and the sidelying position has worked well to encourage her latch and keep her there a little longer. I also only nurse one side at a time, I have a strong let down too and since I started one siding it we've had fewer green poops.

    Phew, sorry, that's kind of a lot! I have been battling this too, don't give up! I understand your frustration! I was not expecting to have any kind of trouble nursing after it was such a dream with my first, I guess every babe is different!

    Good luck!

    Olivia

    ps the swing works wonders for dd also, when she's cranky but not hungry, she'll go to sleep and not need the pacifier.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    Olivia, thanks for your message. I think we will try to limit the pacifier too. My husband gives it too easily every time she's cranky, but I really don't like using it and I suspect it may be interfering with breastfeeding. You mentioned a swing that works wonders—what kind are you referring to?
    thanks
    alison

  10. #10
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    Default Re: do I have an oversupply problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by fozzie
    Nope, no white spots in her mouth. Today I was feeding her in the regular cradle position and she not only let go a lot, but coughed and sputtered a little. Last night I nursed her in the lying down size position and she seemed to nurse well (though I was kind of dozing off myself). Seems pretty hard to pinpoint why she keeps spitting out the nipple during nursing. But as for the crying issue, I think it's a combination of fussiness and the need to suck. A pacifier usually does the trick when this happens, though I hate to use it!
    Hi Alison,
    Sounds like you might have hit on something here! She did well in the side-lying position which is common for babies dealing with oversupply or OALD. Could you nurse her in this position more often? Would that be something that might work for you?

    I think you mentioned the laying back position as well, right? Lots of moms find that position very helpful.

    And as Carol said, sometimes expressing just a little milk before putting baby to breast helps them cope better with the strong flow of let-down.

    Keep us posted on your progress!

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