Hyper lactation occurs in millions of women all over the world every year. This condition happens when the breast produces an oversupply of milk. You may notice that your milk comes out fast or that your letdown of milk is painful. Some women have a full feeling in their breasts which is a sign of over lactating. Hyperlactation can also cause Mastitis, which is a clogged milk duct in the breast that is very painful for the mother and can cause the baby not to nurse. Most women will need to be treated by a doctor for Mastitis, and some may even require minor surgery to get rid of it.
If you are unsure if you have hyperlactation, you can take some cues from your baby. If your baby is wanting to nurse frequently, or you notice that they are uncomfortable after they eat, they may not be getting the hindmilk. If they are unable to get to the hindmilk which is deeper in the milk ducts, then they will exhibit symptoms of colic or acid reflux.
You should also check for green colored stools, increased wet diapers, or more stools in a day than is normal for your baby. If your baby is having any of these symptoms, you will need to consult with not only their pediatrician but also with your OBGYN to see if you are experiencing hyperlactation.
If you are early on in motherhood and you are still trying to sync your body to what your baby needs from you, you will more than likely not experience hyperlactation. Hyperlactation usually presents itself once the baby is a few weeks to a month old, and this would be well after the time the baby and mother have had to figure breastfeeding out.
Causes Of Hyperlactation
There are three main causes for hyperlactation.
This is the milk producing gland in the breast which is where the milk is made and stored before being let down to feed the baby. Most women have somewhere around 100,000 alveoli while women who are more likely to experience hyperlactation have somewhere around 300,000. The number of alveoli does matter when it comes to producing milk. If you have too many alveoli, you are more prone to experience hyperlactation.
Once you and your baby have established a routine for breastfeeding, and your body becomes used to this routine and can figure out how much milk the baby needs, you may think you are in the clear. However, if you are a mom that also pumps milk for her baby, maybe while you’re at work, or even for dad to help feed the baby, you could be confusing your body.
If you begin to excessively pump more milk than your body is used to giving the baby, you can experience hyperlactation. In this case, your body believes that the baby is drinking more milk at each feeding than it actually is. If you pump, make sure that you are not pumping more than what your baby would normally eat. Try to err on the side of caution and pump in smaller amounts or for the same amount of time that your baby would normally nurse.
Changes in your hormones can cause hyperlactation and have nothing to do with the baby or your bodily cues. Medications can also cause this hormonal imbalance, so you will want to talk with your medical doctor before taking any medications. Also have your doctor check your pituitary gland for any issues, as problems with this gland can also cause enough of a hormonal imbalance that you begin to experience hyperlactation.
Once you and your doctor have determined that you have hyperlactation, your doctor may recommend that you see a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can help you to regulate your milk flow and make sure that you do not continue to experience hyperlactation. Your lactation consultant may suggest that you trying hand pumping into a bottle or cloth before you begin to breastfeed your baby.
By doing this you are helping to slow the letdown of your milk which will help to keep your body regulated with what your baby needs. Try to keep pumping using a machine down to a minimum if possible. The more often you completely empty your milk ducts, the more milk will return to them. You want to make sure that you have plenty for your baby, but not so much that you have hyperlactation.
Your lactation consultant may also suggest that you use a nipple shield to help your baby cope with the large letdown while you are trying to regulate your milk again. This will help to keep your baby from drinking milk too quickly and becoming choked. Have your lactation consultant educate you on what to look for when it comes to clogged milk ducts or mastitis. If you have clogged milk ducts or mastitis, you will have to seek treatment for them and completely recover before you can try to regulate your milk supply again.
If you find that nothing your lactation consultant has suggested has worked, consult with your doctor and the consultant to see what other options are available. In some cases, you may need medication to help with regulating your milk flow. Continuing to nurse while you are dealing with hyperlactation can actually help your body to regulate milk on its own. But you will want to make sure that you are not over feeding to help get rid of the large amounts of milk. You only want to give your baby what they need in terms of milk, and over feeding the baby will only make the hyperlactation worse.
Consult with your medical doctor during your pregnancy and have them refer you to a lactation consultant. By doing this, you are taking the first steps to ensure that your breastfeeding experience is a good one. The lactation consultant will be able to take you through the process of breastfeeding and what to expect after the baby arrives. They will also be able to help you along if you come to a road block on the journey of breastfeeding and keeping hyperlactation at bay.