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Milk production is the primary aspect of motherhood once the baby has been delivered and is ready to feed on the mother’s breast. As the due date approaches and the delivery commences, the body already goes into gear to start milk production and keep it ready for the baby. While some women face problems with it, there are certain women whose body produces a lot of milk than required. This condition is termed as hyperlactation.
What is Hyperlactation Syndrome?
Hyperlactation syndrome is the condition where breast milk overflow occurs in excessive quantities because of increased milk production. This results in the milk spurting out of the breast with a lot of force and in large amounts. At times, milk begins to leak out of the breast more frequently than it should be. All of these conditions can make it difficult for the baby to feed off the breast properly.
An optimal level of breastmilk production and feeding is a good sign for both the mother and the child to know that he is getting enough milk and the body is producing the right amount, too. Excessive production could lead you to believe that your baby isn’t having enough or the forceful spurting of milk could cause your baby to refuse to breastfeed as well.
What Causes Oversupply Syndrome?
Since all women do not face the condition of hyperlactation syndrome, the oversupply of milk is a reason for multiple factors that are unique to certain women. These are:
1. An Imbalance of Hormones
Milk production is a result of hormones that stimulate the necessary glands to carry out the generation of milk in your breasts. Any change in the levels of these hormones could result in the improper quantity of milk being produced. In certain cases, this could be a side-effect of medicines too, which affect the hormone levels. Internally, the pituitary gland could end up secreting more hormones than necessary, leading to hyperlactation.
2. The Signs of The Body
The process of breastfeeding depends a lot on the feedback it gets from external conditions. As breastfeeding begins and the newborn starts sucking on milk, the body begins to understand the demand on a daily basis and produces the right quantity of milk that’s needed.
However, if you prefer squeezing out breastmilk to be given to your child at night via the bottle or when you’re at work, this could lead your body to be confused in the amount of milk your child requires. Sensing an increased demand for milk, the body will switch to high gears and produce a lot of milk than needed, leading to hyperlactation.
3. The Number of Alveoli Glands
Heard quite rarely, the glands that produce milk in the breast and stored it before passing it down the tracts, to the nipple and consequently to the baby, are called as alveoli glands. An average number of alveoli glands in a breastfeeding woman tend to hover around 1lac or so. For women suffering from hyperlactation syndrome, these glands could reach up to 3 lacs, leading to a lot of milk being produced than required.
Signs of Hyperlactation
To understand if you are suffering from a hyperlactation syndrome, it is necessary to look for an oversupply of breast milk symptoms that can help you reach a conclusion. These are observed both in the mother as well as the child.
1. Mom Signs
- For the mother, the very first and most obvious sign is the sensation of feeling extremely full and heavy breasts. There might even be the possibility of having developed mastitis or having your ducts blocked.
- These engorged breasts can start hurting after a while, leading to milk being leaked out and wetting your feeding bras. While feeding on one breast, the other breast might start leaking milk, too.
- Usually, this mismatch of milk production and demand is seen in most mothers in the first couple of weeks, or maybe one more. Post that, most women find their milk supply to be regulated at the right level.
2. Baby Signs
- Most babies rarely react to a larger flow of milk since it could be as much as they require, too. But if the milk begins to spurt out way too fast, he may pull away from his mouth and turn away from the breast. Some babies use their gums to chew down on the nipple to stop the flow, which ends up damaging the nipples altogether.
- With hyperlactation, babies usually get confused. This results in repetitive nursing cycles where the baby will take the breast but then refuse it after a while, and then get fussy about the hunger he feels. Your child might even spit out milk while feeding when the flow is too fast. This prevents your child from getting the nice creamy milk that comes later on.
- Such babies either have low weight or end up gaining a lot more weight than is healthy.
How Will Oversupply of Breast Milk Affect Your Baby?
The forceful emergence of milk in large quantities results in the baby swallowing a lot of milk in one go, which also ends up in him swallowing air along with it. This leads to the formation of gas in his tummy, making him fussy and irritated. A lot of burping might be required leading to spit up milk, and he might pass gas more often than usual.
How to Treat Hyperlactation?
Reducing oversupply of breast milk can be achieved by taking care of a few things right away.
- Avoid pumping right after you are done feeding.
- Adopt the technique to dangle feed your child, which helps regulate supply properly and reduce the chances of mastitis.
- Go for block feedings as you use only one breast to nurse your baby for a couple of hours.
- Apply cold cloths under your breast to relieve the engorgement.
- Placing leaves of cabbage inside your bra is well-known to take care of milk leaks, too.
Can You Continue Nursing with Hyperlactation Syndrome?
Absolutely. Nursing the right way is what will finally regulate your milk production and reduce hyperlactation. Make sure you try to stick to a fixed schedule and quantity as much as possible.
Hyperlactation might seem like a boon for women having low breastmilk problems but this, too, is not beneficial for the mother or the child. With a few quick home remedies and the right techniques of feeding and storing milk, your body can start learning the baby’s demands and bring itself back on track in no time.
Also Read: How to Deal with Leaky Breasts