Milk Over-Production: Tips for the Tits

Milk Over-Production: Tips for the Tits

My blog on milk over-production highlighted the severity of my problem, but milk production is a spectrum. Most mamas will have regulated their supply by 4 weeks. Therefore it’s important to be cautious in milk reduction. I am not a professional but these things helped me:


Before the Baby Arrives

  • Firstly a brutal reality check - there is no guarantee you will be able to breastfeed.  I recommend you mentally prepare for all possibilities. Failure didn’t occur to me. I had all the gear, but no idea. The pressure I put on myself was a fundamental part of my failure. Plus I’d had a heads up: I required breastpads from the second trimester!


Before Leaving the Hospital

  • Skin-to-skin contact in the first few hours of your baby’s life helps regulate your supply. So get as many bare bear hugs in as you can.
  • The golden hours: feed, whenever possible, in the first hour after delivery. With my first, I was apologetic. I needed midwives to pass me my mini. I didn’t want to fuss, but you should. Midwives are there to help. They are busy but you are important. Once home you won’t have specialist help with: latch, positioning, checking tongue tie, aiding skin-to-skin.


Home:The Milk is Epic

  • Block-feeding: Essentially feeding off one boob for a set period of time, causing engorgement in the other boob which over time inhibits milk production. See our post on Block Feeding for more information. 
  • Feeding on your back, AKA biological nurturing, tricky to master but can really help with forceful let-down.  If you are anything like me then removing a breast-pad and trying to get into any position without covering everything within a foot of you in milk is pretty tricky.
  • Reduce night feeds short term. WARNING: this is likely to be very effective! There are plenty of old wives tales about why babies need to feed more at night. Milk-production is regulated by Prolactin, a hormone that’s highest at night. Why this is I don’t know; cue old wives. But, if D woke between 2am and 5am I would give him milk I had collected in my breast-shells via a bottle. This reduces supply by reducing prolactin levels.
  • Breast pumps. What can I say about breast pumps? I am not a fan, so I will lead with the general consensus. If you have over-production you may find some relief from using a pump. With me, expressing created a vicious cycle of over stimulating. If you need relief from engorgement then hand expressing can give light relief.
  • Anti-inflammatories. Cabbage leaves are anti-inflammatory. You chill them and put them in your bra till they wilt, leading to a leaking soggy mess; No thanks, I don’t want to stink of sour milk AND cabbage! Paracetamol is brilliant and safe during breastfeeding. Ibuprofen comes with a caution. Most manufacturers say not suitable for breastfeeding; however only small amounts can be found in breastmilk. My advice is ask your midwife or GP if ibuprofen would be suitable if you feel you need it.  
  • Avoid galactagogues: foods that increase milk supply. The most common are oats, chickpeas, garlic, ginger, fenugreek, fennel and red raspberry leaf. Conversely sage, peppermint and parsley are said to reduce your supply.
  • Cold packs: I took muslins soaked in water, moulded them into a bra shape and froze, or I used icepacks. It was lovely. Remember to stock the freezer or you will be going through a lot of peas!
  • Hot showers: bliss when engorged as you don’t feel like a big sticky mess. Your boobs can flow freely, giving a bit of light relief.  The shower was my mama haven. 10 minutes of self-indulgence, where I cried and still do. Best therapy ever.

Where else can you get help?

Sarah-Jayne Ljungstrom's 10 minute Vlog on breastfeeding oversupply has some fantastic pointers to get you started.

NHS breast pain and breastfeeding

An overview of breastfeeding from Patient UK

NCT: milk over-supply

National Breastfeeding Helpline

La Leche League: milk over-supply

KellyMum: forceful let down 

DEC the Halls

DEC the Halls

Boob or Bust: Breastfeeding Grief

Boob or Bust: Breastfeeding Grief