Normally I don’t diagnose a lot of breastfeeding issues because I feel like that’s something that’s tricky and also a little dicey to do when you’re not in the same room as the persona with the problem. Plus, I’m not trained in breastfeeding issues. But I got an email from Angel, who has a 5-week-old, and in her very long email she was convinced that she was somehow overstimulating her baby and making him nervous. As I read the email, it hit me that all the symptoms she was listing were classic symptoms of oversupply. I’m not going to publish the email because it was long and kind of made my heart hurt that she was blaming herself for creating a neurosis in her infant, when it was just a physical issue and easily resolved.
Instead, here are the symptoms Angel listed:
* nurses ravenously
* but for only about 10 minutes, and then he falls asleep
* eats every hour and is crying and starving if she tries to make him wait (and it was all day long, not just in the evening or late afternoon, which is classic cluster feeding and is comnpletely normal)
* he’d gained a lot of weight very quickly
* she also described a kind of “heh-heh” noise he was making that sounded like a “nervous tic” to her
All this sounded waaaay too familiar to me from my first son. Some of you may recall that he was 9.5 pounds at birth, so I just thought it was normal that a big baby would eat so often, so fast, and fall asleep in the middle of a feed. Then, I was hanging out at a breastfeeding support group (just to get out of the house and see some other human beings who wouldn’t judge me for being in maternity pants and not having any makeup on), and the lactaction consultant heard these little “heh-heh” baby goat-like noises he was making and diagnosed me with oversupply.
Apparently, when you produce a lot of milk, the baby gets the watery foremilk first, which is high in milk sugars. So the baby falls asleep while nursing from a food coma (the same reason we all fall asleep after a big meal), but it’s not fatty hindmilk so it runs through their stomach quickly and they need to eat again in an hour.
In the meantime, all the milk sugars make them grow really quickly.
The solution is to do “block nursing,” which means you pick a block of time, say from noon to 2, and every time you nurse during that block you nurse on the same side only. Then for the next block, nurse on the other side, no matter how many times you nurse.
Within a few days you supply will match up with your baby’s needs better, and the baby will get the right ratio of watery foremilk to fatty hindmilk.
Sure enough, Angel got back to me a few days later that he was going 3 hours between feedings and wasn’t making the “heh-heh” noise anymore.
For most of us who have it, oversupply isn’tr such a big problem that we’d even realize anything was wrong. But your quality of life changes radically when your baby can go longer than 60 minutes between feeds!
Also, I wanted to put this out there as yet another example of how many things with babies are NOT YOUR FAULT, and that you’re doing a great job.
Readers? Tales of oversupply or any other little odd things you thought you were doing wrong but were really just flukes or the way you or your child was built?