Too much milk! (And other things I learned breastfeeding...)

Posted by  | Tuesday, July 12, 2011  at 8:00 AM  

My first breastfeeding experience was difficult - as many are! The learning curve was HUGE and I was totally unprepared after Will's early arrival. I was determined to breastfeed and thankfully the NICU nurses and doctors were very supportive. I just didn't realize how hard it would be! I'm very glad to report that we did end up successfully breastfeeding after overcoming the many hurdles...

-pumping 24/7 the first two weeks of his life
-learning to feed a 3lb baby using a nipple shield (I do not endorse this product. :) 
-still pumping after every feeding because of said nipple shield
-nipple confusion because of the many bottles (with fortified breastmilk for weight gain) and nipple shield
-pumping at work from months 3-10
-severe reflux (another preemie thing) that caused major issues with feeding his first year of life

Fast forward to my second breastfeeding experience. At first, it was a dream compared to the first! Adeline was an excellent nurser and being full term had no weight gain issues or reflux. The only problem we had in the first few newborn days was my overactive let down, but we learned to wait until the milk was slower before latching her on again. Our biggest problem after that was that she never took a bottle! However, she was our super colicky baby with nightly scream fests lasting from 6-11pm until she was about 4 months old. 

Long after I quit nursing Adeline (at 15 months), I learned about the importance of the balance between the "skim" foremilk and "fatty" hindmilk. (Thanks to Krista and another friend!) I also learned that having too much foremilk can throw a baby's digestive system out of whack. They will be fussy (Adeline). They will have green, frothy poops (Adeline). They will act as though they are in pain (Adeline during her nightly spells). 

I was sad that I didn't realize this earlier and could have helped her be more comfortable for all those months! The solution is simple - be 100% sure that you are allowing the baby to empty the breast and not switching too often. Otherwise, baby will fill up on foremilk and not get enough of the fatty hindmilk. Even offering only one breast per feeding is ok! Your body will gradually adjust, producing less milk. You can also pump a little milk before feeding - but this will actually add to the problem in the long run as you're not signaling to your body to slow down the milk production!

I'm now 5 weeks into nursing Anna. She is showing the SAME signs that Adeline did. Fussy nights, green poops, pain, etc. The docs don't worry about green poop, but it does signal that something might be off in baby's system. Just today I started only nursing her on one side per feeding and I'm still waiting to see a yellow poop again. 

Today I did some more research and wanted to share some articles in hopes of helping someone else! I was floored to find an article (through LaLeche League) discussing some research done that suggests a relationship between imbalance of fore/hindmilk and COLIC! 

This morning, Anna and I were at the pediatrician for her one month check up. The little chunker weighed 9lbs! She's up more than 3lbs from birth. I asked about the green poop (really just to see what our doc would say!) and he was, as I suspected, not worried. He did give me all the reminders about colic..."We don't know what causes it"..."It comes at 2-3 weeks and passes around 2-3 months"...etc. I'm hopeful that she and I can work this out and she will not be as colicky for as long as Adeline was! Here are the articles: 

Do you have a breastfeeding experience you'd like to share? Something you learned that may help someone else? Please share!! 


Leah said...

I also have too much milk and overactive letdown. I'm still struggling with it some (he is 5 months). My baby would chomp to restrict the flow and one doctor told me to thump him on the cheek (my 1 week old). I found helpful info on LLL and then worked with a lactation consultant. In addition to feeding from only one side, they also suggested feeding lying down. It makes HUGE difference.

Leah said...

Thanks so much for sharing this post. I'm glad that you are working through this issue and not just giving up. I find a lot of the articles on LLL website are good. So is talking with a LLL leader. There is a SUPER GREAT LLL in Wake Forest named Donna Gilbert that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.

I also just wanted to say that I had a good experience bfeeding both of my boys with no problems. I don't say this to "rub it in" or anything :), just to point out to other readers not to be scared to bfeed b/c of the problems that can come up. I remember being really scared of bfeeding when I was pregnant with my first b/c of all the stories I'd heard from others.

Love you Christina! Praying that you and Anna find peace and rest.

Christina said...

1st Leah - YES!! Feeding lying down does help for the letdown. My problem right now is that I can't stay awake!!! :) We usually do a feeding like this at least once a night.

The funny thing about all this that I didn't put in the post is that though she shows all the signs of milk imbalance (and I def. have the overactive letdown...) I'm still only pumping about 1.5oz per side when I do pump. With my first, I could easily pump 3oz per side at this point!

2nd Leah: YES, thanks for that encouragement to our readers. I guess I was never scared of it and am still not scared of a challenge - probably more like stubborn and refuse to quit. :) I don't want to discourage anyone from breastfeeding! Despite any issues with the first (our hardest experience) and some with the next two...I wouldn't trade it for the world and I'm SOOO thankful we succeeded!

Lauren said...

The laying down does totally help! You can also cut out any caffeine, chocolate, or oatmeal. I pray it passes soon! I overproduced with my second and fourth. The second seemed to not have any problems with pain, but my fourth was very colicky! I have no idea what the difference was!

Lauren said...

Why oh why am I still awake? ;) I happened across your (y'all's?) website tonight and have enjoyed getting acquainted with your hearts. I know this post is many months past, but since you asked ;) I thought I would chime in for a brief moment before hitting the hay.

I am, as my friends tease me, a non-BF-ing lactivist. ;) That is to say, that when everyone shakes their heads and says, "Oh, less than 2%/4% {depending on what source they're quoting} of women really truly cannot breastfeed," that they are including moms like me who suffer from primary lactation failure.

I have blogged about my breastfeeding experiences twice ( and

I understand that breast is not simply best: breast is normal. My physical inability to feed my children was devastating, but has grown me so much in grace and compassion towards other moms; grace and compassion that I - frankly - often do not receive from other, even Christian, mothers who are passionate about breastfeeding. As I said in my posts, I may not ever understand fully why and how the Lord chose to use this tiny bit of brokenness to shape me, but He did. He does.

(Oops, forgot; also blogged about my beloved sis-in-law who pumped countless hundreds of ounces for my precious #3 )

Many blessings.

Christina said...

Thank you for chiming in. I just went back and read your posts that you shared. I'm so glad I did. It was super timely for me....and very encouraging! Right now, I'm in the process of weaning Anna (who is now 5 months) to formula. I've never exclusively bottlefed a baby formula. My first got bottles of breastmilk while I worked, but nursed the rest of the time. This has been such a difficult thing for me! Like maybe one of the hardest things I've ever had to do!

I was planning to post a plea for bottle feeding advice on POH b/c I'm so lost! The short version of why we're weaning is that (in case you're a new reader) I lost both of my ovaries this past year. I was hoping to wait until she was a year before having to take any hormones, but the past month has been extremely difficult for me. I've experienced extreme anxiety and depression (like no other time in my life) and other unpleasant symptoms that are directly related to no hormones. So I decided to start the hormones so I could function and serve my family. Well, once you start hormones....your milk supply will dry up. However, I'm hoping to nurse at least once a day for many months even though we are transitioning to formula.

Thanks again for sharing!

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