Dealing with a Forceful Milk Flow
The old adage, too much of a good thing, definitely applies to both the rate of your milk flow and your milk supply. Often occurring simultaneously, too much flow with or without too much milk may make breastfeeding difficult for you and your baby.
Signs Of An Over Active Milk Ejection Reflex (OAMER)
Signs that your baby is having a difficult time dealing with a forceful milk flow include:
Gulping, choking, coughing while nursing.
Pulling off of the breast while eating. You may see your milk spraying out at these times.
Refusing to breastfeed.
Excessive gassiness, the need to be burped several times during a feed.
Doesn't enjoy nursing for comfort.
Spits up excessively.
There are other reasons that a baby may behave this way, such as a swallowing disorder, though this is less likely.
What You Can Do
There are ways to help your baby handle the flow.
The most important thing is to make sure that he is latched on correctly. The better the baby can latch on the more control he will have over the milk in his mouth.
Have baby nurse against the force of gravity. Probably the best way to do this is by lying on your back while your baby nurses. If this is difficult for you, try latching baby on while sitting up and then leaning back onto pillows. Nursing in a side lying position also helps.
Anticipate the let down reflex. Your milk flow restarts several times while you are nursing. Some women can feel in their breasts when the milk starts to flow. In this case, detach the baby from the breast and let the milk squirt into a burp cloth or other receptacle and put the baby back on once it subsides.
Try to nurse your baby before he fully wakes up. If baby is sleepy and relaxed he will nurse slower and elicit a slower flow.
Pump off some milk before nursing. Pumping your breasts until the initial flow subsides will make it easier for the baby to nurse. However, this should be done only if nothing else works since it may increase your milk supply and the problem.
Use only one breast at a feed. As the feed continues your milk flow should slow down.
If nothing else works, using a thin silicone nipple shield may slow down the flow. Have a lactation consultant teach you how to use it properly.
Too Much Milk
An overly forceful flow is often the result of too much milk. If you nurse often your breasts will have less time to fill up and may be easier to nurse from. You may need to take steps to lessen your supply. It is important to consult with a lactation consultant to determine whether this is the case.
Many moms find that their forceful milk flow lessens with time especially when the flow is the result of too much milk.