I want to talk with you today about overactive letdown, which I have. I noticed that I had it with my first daughter, and it’s back again with this daughter. For those of you who have this issue, you know that it can definitely cause problems with feeding your newborn. Your infant is not able to take on the “fire-hose”, and they usually get pretty mad about the volume of milk. Like, really mad, which causes other issues like air bubbles and gas.
Professional Help This Time!
What I did this time is contact an IBCLC, which is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, someone who consults for a living. I met with a wonderful woman named Joyce who has been doing this for about 16 years, and she gave me some really good tips. Her advice actually changed our nursing relationship. It’s been great.
Getting Set Up for Good Nursing
The first thing that she suggested is before you nurse, get your pillows all set up. Prep yourself, position your elbows so you’re not hurting your neck. She said, “Always keep your baby’s bottom a little bit lower than the baby’s head.” That’s just kind of…I mean, “Duh. You know, gravity,” but anyway make sure the bottom’s a little bit lower than your baby’s head. Next, make sure there’s a good latch. Babies need to make what looks like fish lips which is where the lips flange out, before latching on.
This one, when she was born, liked to tuck her lips in. She and I worked on that and fortunately her latch is pretty good now. Make sure there’s a good latch and go ahead and let her start nursing. Once the letdown happens…and for me, (I don’t know about any of you), when the letdown happens I feel a sort of a tingling. That’s my clue the milk is coming. The lactation consultant said, “When the letdown happens have a burp cloth handy and pull the baby off of your breast.” You don’t necessarily need to touch the nipple because it actually might slow the flow, and you don’t want to do that. You’re just trying to ease the intensity.
So, go ahead and let the milk spray into the burp cloth for a minute until flow starts to slow down. Once you’ve slowed the flow, you can let the baby re-attach. She said to pay attention to the cues your baby gives you. Your baby might stop trying to nurse, like mine did when the flow was too intense.
If Baby Stops Nursting
If she stops nursing that’s a good time to stick your finger in, pop the suction, pull the baby off and burp her. She said that for mommies with overactive letdown, it’s very important to make it a priority to burp your baby because they are going to take in extra air which will cause problems. She said, “Pull the baby off, make sure you burp.” You can do the burping on your shoulder or you can have the baby sit on your thigh, lean them over and pat their back. She said that’s another option, but burp often. Once you’ve got a burp or at least attempted to burp your baby let them re-attach and continue nursing.
How to Hold
I think one of the biggest things that helped us is once she attached, was to take my baby’s bum and scoot it in close and tight to my body. Basically, what that’s going to do is take the baby’s chin and shove it into your breast while pushing the nose away. That’s going to help with suction, keeping their latch good and strong. Another thing which I didn’t mention, but that we were dealing with is, she was clicking and losing suction. Because my milk was coming out so quickly, suction was lost which caused clicking. Every time she clicked she gulped in a little more air.
These tips have completely changed our nursing relationship. She’s quite a bit happier. There’s not as many bubbles in her tummy. I’m so thankful for that.
Good Burping Moves
One last thing the lactation consultant suggested to do was that when you’re burping the baby, and you have them up on your chest patting them, gently massage in a circular motion just above the diaper line. It may help move that air bubble up. I’ve done that and have been successful getting a burp.
Some moms believe that consuming at least a portion of baby’s placenta can help tame overactive let down. Here’s my post on that subject.
These are the things I learned about how to deal with my overactive supply. If you have an overactive supply or if you’re having a hard time nursing, I would encourage you to find a lactation consultant. Before we have a baby we often think, “Okay, I’ve got a nipple and I have a baby. It’s going to be easy.” You’d think breastfeeding would be easy but it’s actually sometimes not. I would encourage you to continue nursing even if you’re have difficulty. Find a lactation consultant who can help you because it will get better. It will get to the point where all you have to do is pop the baby on and you’re good to go. However, in the beginning it’s not always quite so easy.
Keep going, it will get easier. I encourage you to develop that nursing relationship because it’s a really rewarding relationship with your baby!
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