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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Oversupply and Strong Milk Ejection Reflex

When my milk finally came in with E, I had a raging oversupply!  No, I didn't pump during the early days but I think the breast compressions must have somehow triggered my body to make a LOT of milk resulting in an overactive milk rejection reflex. [Milk Ejection Reflex or MER is what is commonly known as "letdown".  LATCH President Buding shared that she learned from her breastfeeding training in Canada that MER is better used as it is technical and descriptive as opposed to letdown which is negative and implies failure]

As a result of my strong MER, E usually coughs and unlatches when my milk starts to flow - and he not only gets a mouthful of milk but a face full as my milk usually sprays all over his face and clothes!

I did some online research and was able to control my oversupply and help E manage the milk flow better.  He is now 8 months and I do still have strong MER sometimes but it's either E has learned to swallow fast or my management techniques worked ;)

To manage oversupply, I used blockfeeding.  I feed E 2x in a row at the same breast, instead of switching breasts.  This way, the breast A won't be as full during the 2nd feeding and it will regulate the supply in the other breast (B).  This is  because breast B becomes full and won't make as much milk.  Remember that an empty breast results in faster milk production.

Along with the oversupply, I had a strong MER.  During the early days, I utilized a washcloth.  E latches and stimulates my milk, when it starts to flow, he unlatches and I immediately use the washcloth to catch the wild sprays.  When the milk flow slows down, I put E back to breast and he is able to contentedly feed without issue.

One of the suggestions I read here is to nurse the baby in an upright or "Australian" position.  The baby lies on top of mommy's tummy while feeding, allowing gravity to play a role.  However, we didn't use this because E was small (about 2 weeks) when I started to encounter a strong MER.  So I resorted to blockfeeding.

If you are so inclined, you can also pump to reduce engorgement.  However, when you pump, don't pump to empty the breast (again, empty breast results in faster milk production).  Pump just to feel comfortable or to get over the first MER.  Throughout the feedings, there are usually 2-3 MERs and it is the first one that is forceful.  When you get over the 1st MER, the 2nd and 3rd ones are usually better handled by baby.

La Leche League has a detailed page on how to deal with oversupply and forceful MER.  Check it out HERE.

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