Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Breastfeeding 454 - Oversupply Management II

If, after trying the pre-pumping and block feeding techniques mentioned in the previous post, your milk supply remains overly excessive, you can try various chemical means to interrupt your body's lactation. I must CAUTION you about these treatments: BE CONSERVATIVE! While they may be effective at bringing down your milk supply, taking these various treatments can also deplete and/or dry up your milk supply completely. You never know how your body will react to a treatment - so always, always try these remedies in very small, conservative increments - in order to properly ascertain your body's response!

Again, I will repeat, it is always better to try non-chemical means of managing overproduction before chemical interventions. These non-chemical techniques include:
  1. Pump off some foremilk to make it easier for baby to latch-on an engorged breast; also useful at decreasing the forcefulness of an initial letdown.
  2. Try unilaterally block-feeding your baby on only one breast for a set period of time. After this time period, switch breasts to feed on only the other breast for a set period of time. This style of feeding should help to down-regulate your body's production, with the intervals becoming shorter and shorter until you are eventually able to nurse your baby on both breasts during a feeding.
If these methods have not been effective for you, first talk to your lactation consultant about the following chemical means for reducing lactation. If the LC feels it is appropriate and safe to try these treatments, be sure to start in low doses so that you are able to understand your body's response to the treatments and proceed cautiously.
  1. Drink sage tea. Sage has a natural estrogen in it that competes with lactation-promoting hormones, and therefore has a tendency to decrease your production. Women who have lost their babies shortly after birth are advised to drink sage in order to dry themselves up - so be careful and don't drink too much! To make sage tea, put 1 tsp. of dried sage from the spice rack at the grocery into a tea infuser ball, then let it steep in a cup of hot water for about 5 minutes. You will probably want to also use another kind of tea mixed with lots of milk and sugar, because sage is very bitter. Try drinking one cup, wait 12-24 hours, and if your body hasn't responded, try drinking two cups, etc.

  2. Eat soy. Soy also contains natural estrogens that compete with lactation hormones in your body. I actually came across this remedy accidentally: I bought a number of soy-based energy bars at the grocery and snacked on them for a quick and nutritious meal during busy days with James. At the end of 3 days snacking on the soy bars, I noticed that I was producing almost no milk!! I immediately realized it had been the soy bars and stopped eating them, but it took 10 agonizing days of a hungry baby for my supply to return to normal. Again: be cautious! To obtain soy in your diet, you might try eating just ONE soy energy bar, drinking just ONE glass of soy milk, etc.
Finally, on a somewhat related note:
100-200 mg of vitamin B-6 per day will help with the swelling and pain of engorgement. I don't believe it brings down milk production, although you may feel that way since it will cause your breasts to become smaller and lose the ultra-full-swollen feeling. As with any treatment, be sure to double-check with your lactation consultant before trying it.

I'd like to encourage overproducing women that with patience, your supply will eventually regulate and hopefully you will be able to breastfeed your baby successfully. Take advantage of the ease of pumping for those of us with oversupply, and if your baby will absolutely not take to the breast, PUMP and bottlefeed! This way, you will be able to keep your supply for whenever that time arrives when your baby is ready to breastfeed. Be patient, however! For James and me, it took almost 3 months before he was able to breastfeed successfully. I believe that our eventual success in breastfeeding was a combination of factors: (1) James was more mature and able to handle my forceful letdown, (2) my milk had finally decreased to a reasonable amount, (3) the amount of foremilk had also appropriately adjusted downward so that James received more than just "sugar water" from nursing. At 11 weeks, when James finally latched-on and nursed successfully, I was ecstatic. I was so glad that I still had my supply and had not switched to formula. Ladies, don't be shy to keep pumping and offering your babies the breast. Eventually they will be able to accomplish this "overabundant" feat!

No comments:

Post a Comment