Can you overfeed a breastfed baby?

Can you overfeed a baby? The answer is absolutely yes. You have a tiny human with a tiny human stomach. All of our stomachs can stretch to hold more capacity than what we actually need to take. The question is, is over eating a problem? We’ll take a look at this and strategies to understanding if whether your baby is over feeding and if it’s a problem or not.

Now we all know that it is very easy to overfeed from a bottle. Bottles have a hole in them that are instant and constant and absolutely yes, many bottle fed babies are over fed. Many times parents are watching the volume in the bottle instead of watching the baby for baby’s cues that they are ready stop. It also takes 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain that it’s full, so it is very easy for babies to take the large volume in a short amount of time and eat more than their stomach needs to, before the brain knows that it’s full. The mouth can still be hungry while the stomach is full so babies may show cues that they are still wanting to suck which parents interpret as cues that Baby wants to continue to feed, and because the stomach can stretch and hold more than it needs to, parents often overfeed from a bottle.

The big question is, can babies overfeed at the breast? The breast works different than a bottle. The breast needs to be stimulated to release milk and milk is released in multiple waves that take time to be triggered. Most young babies will take 15 to 30 minutes at the breast, which allows their tummy time to tell the brain that it’s full. As they age and become more efficient; they learn to listen to their stomach to help guide when to stop feeding.

It is still possible to overfeed at the breast. We usually see this for two reasons: either from the mother side or from the baby side.

On the mother side, the most common reason for overfeeding is the mother has an over supply of milk. There are several reasons for having an oversupply. First, it may be caused by using a Haakaa or a breast pump and overstimulating the breast to make more milk than it needs. This also drives up the letdown response, which makes milk flow faster than if the baby were just feeding at the breast without the over supply. In this case, baby takes too much milk too fast. Mother may also have an oversupply being driven by certain medications. The most common medication I see driving over supply is Zoloft. There are also different medical conditions that can be the reason for an oversupply such as a prolactinoma, which is a pituitary gland tumor, or uncontrolled thyroid disorders.  This would be diagnosed by a physician after bloodwork and other medical imaging. Lastly, some new parents who don’t have as much experience with babies may also interpret every cue as a hunger cue. Some babies are totally willing to keep eating even if they are full. If you offer me a cheesecake, I will totally eat the cheesecake even if I don’t need it. Some babies are also like this, they will always latch when offered the breast. Every time baby is put down to sleep in the crib, they cry. Or they sleep for 10 minutes and cry to be picked up. But these cues get misinterpreted as the baby is still hungry and the baby is put back to breast. Some babies are very willing to go back to breast and keep feeding.

Overfeeding  could also be on the baby side. Certain tongue ties will stimulate the breast into an over supply. These babies often use a quick suckle pattern which initiates the let down reflex from how the nipple is stimulated. These cases are complicated in that the tongue may be restricted in a way that the mother doesn’t have much nipple pain or damage, but her body is compensating for the baby not having full range of motion of the tongue. Babies with reflux may also over feed at the breast. They often want to nurse more to keep swallowing, which helps keep milk in the stomach. Breastmilk is a pain reliever and many babies with reflux learn that they would rather be swallowing milk down than bringing it back up as reflux. So frequently feeding helps them swallow more often, but it becomes a vicious cycle.

When does overfeeding actually become a problem? If baby is having a lot of negative symptoms related to feeding, and over feeding is determined to be part of the root, addressing the reason WHY there is overfeeding would be appropriate.

If the baby has digestive discomfort, and has a lot of reflux/excessive spit up/projectile vomiting with pain, severe gas or digestive pain, we would want to address over supply or other issues, causing this discomfort. If the baby is having green, frothy/foamy or watery poops, this is also a sign of too much milk too fast. These kinds of watery or green poops may be a sign of lactose overload, where baby is accessible too much foremilk due to an oversupply.

Another symptom to watch for that would lead us to believe overfeeding is a problem would be baby coughing, choking, or leaking milk during the feeding. If the baby just physically cannot keep up and is constantly struggling during the feeding, there would be a reason why we would want to reduce milk supply to help baby feel more comfortable at the breast. Although this may also be a symptom pointing back to a tongue tie driving the over supply, so just bringing supply down would not necessarily be the best answer in this case. We would want to determine if the oversupply is causing the coughing and choking or if an inefficient tongue is contributing to baby not being able to swallow efficiently.

Babies gaining weight too quickly or faster than expected can also be a symptom that baby is being overfed, however, this is my symptom of least concerned. If the baby is gaining happily with no digestive discomfort, poops are a normal color and consistency, and is not leaking, coughing, or choking during feedings, fast weight gain alone would not be a concern. Many typically feeding babies with mothers with a normal supply can gain weight quicker than anticipated and then level off in weight once they become more active or distracted.

Yes, it is occasionally possible for breastfed babies to overfeed. If there there are symptoms happening (recurrent plugged ducts and mastitis for mother from an over supply, nipple pain and damage, coughing/choking baby, digestive discomfort or concerns with poop), working with an IBCLC lactation consultant can help determine what the root is (excessive pumping, medications, tongue tie, reflux, etc) to help balance the dyad for happier feeding.

How to increase supply on a slacker boob


Slacker boob, AKA “shitty titty”, is the way some breastfeeding parents refer to one breast producing less milk than the other. It's important to note that breast milk production can naturally vary between breasts, and having one breast that seems to produce less milk doesn't necessarily indicate a problem. 70% of us naturally make more milk on the right side due to asymmetries in our anatomy! Breasts can have different storage capacities and respond differently to the baby's nursing patterns.

Factors such as latch quality, frequency of nursing, and hormonal fluctuations can influence milk supply. In some cases, a perceived difference in milk production might be due to variations in the baby's sucking efficiency or preference for one breast over the other.

Here are some strategies for dealing with your lower producing side:

⭐️Frequent Nursing: Ensure that baby nurses more frequently on the slacker side. Start with that side a little more often and use it as the pacification boob.

⭐️Switch Nursing: Alternate between breasts during a single feeding session, starting with the slacker side. This encourages more thorough draining of the breast and signals your body to produce more milk.

⭐️Pump After Feedings: After breastfeeding, consider pumping on the slacker side for an additional 10-15 minutes. This can help to fully empty the breast and signal your body to produce more milk.

⭐️Breast Massage and Compression: During breastfeeding or pumping, use breast massage and compression techniques. Gently massage the breast from the back down to the front and compress it to help express more milk.

⭐️Hydration and Nutrition: Stay well-hydrated and maintain a balanced diet rich in nutrients. Proper nutrition is essential for optimal milk production.

⭐️Comfortable Latching: Ensure that your baby is latching well on the slacker side. A proper latch helps the baby effectively remove milk from the breast.

⭐️Consult with a Lactation Consultant: If you're struggling with milk supply imbalances, seek guidance from a lactation consultant such as myself. I am available for virtual and in person consultations and have worked with families all over the world. Finding a local ibclc lactation consultant  can assess your breastfeeding technique, provide personalized advice, and address any specific concerns.

Remember that breastfeeding is a dynamic process, and milk supply can fluctuate throughout the day. If you have persistent concerns about milk supply or notice significant differences between your breasts, consulting with a healthcare professional or a lactation consultant is recommended for personalized support.

Alcohol and breastfeeding

Current scientific research, including studies published in reputable journals such as 'Journal of Human Lactation,' supports the idea that moderate alcohol consumption is generally considered acceptable during breastfeeding. The key is understanding the timing of alcohol metabolism and its presence in breast milk. A study published in the "Journal of Pediatrics" found that alcohol concentrations in breast milk peaked around 30 to 60 minutes after consumption and gradually declined thereafter. If you’ve had one standard drink, that alcohol should be completely out of your milk 2-3 hours after you drank it. Research suggests that waiting a few hours after consuming alcohol before breastfeeding can significantly reduce the amount present in breast milk.

It is generally considered acceptable that breastfeeding mothers can typically enjoy up to one standard drink per day without compromising the well-being of their infants. A standard drink, equivalent to approximately 14 grams of pure alcohol,  would equal a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer, or a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits.

Understanding the timing of alcohol metabolism is crucial. Waiting a few hours after consuming alcohol before breastfeeding allows for a decline in alcohol concentrations in breast milk. If there's a need to breastfeed within this waiting period, pumping and storing milk in advance can be a practical solution.

Do be mindful of individual factors and how they impact alcohol consumption while breastfeeding—metabolism, body weight, and other personal characteristics. Mothers are encouraged to consider these factors when making choices about alcohol consumption during breastfeeding. If there are uncertainties or unique circumstances, our team is here to provide personalized guidance and support.

At LA Lactation, we believe in empowering mothers with knowledge to make informed decisions that prioritize the health and well-being of both mother and baby. For any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out. Your can email [email protected] 🌟🤱 #LALactation #BreastfeedingGuidance #EvidenceBasedSupport"

Postpartum Rage: It may also be grief


Social media is filled with pictures of overflowing bottles and serene mothers cradling their content newborns to their breast. For many, though, the breastfeeding journey may not be what was planned for or expected, leading to intense emotions that go beyond frustration. Postpartum mood disorders, including postpartum rage, are on the rise. Postpartum rage, characterized by intense, often unexplained anger, can be heightened when breastfeeding expectations are unmet. It's crucial to recognize that this anger may, in fact, be a form of grieving as well. Whether hindered by physical challenges, birth trauma, societal pressures, or other unforeseen medical complications, the gap between expectations and reality can be a source of profound sorrow. Acknowledging breastfeeding rage as a potential facet of grief allows for a deeper understanding of these complex emotions. Seeking support, both emotionally and professionally, becomes paramount in navigating through these feelings.

#BreastfeedingRage #GrievingProcess #MotherhoodRealities #BreastfeedingGrief #MotherhoodJourney #SupportEachOther

Toddler Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding toddlers offers a range of benefits that extend beyond infancy, contributing to the overall health and well-being of the child. One notable advantage is the continued nutritional support provided by breast milk. As toddlers transition to a more varied diet, breast milk remains a valuable source of essential nutrients, offering a balance of proteins, fats, and antibodies tailored to the child's needs.

Moreover, breastfeeding fosters a strong emotional bond between the toddler and the mother. The act of nursing provides comfort, security, and a sense of connection, promoting the child's emotional development. This nurturing aspect of breastfeeding can be especially beneficial during times of stress, illness, or significant developmental milestones.

Breast milk adapts to meet the changing nutritional requirements of a growing toddler, offering a dynamic source of antibodies that help bolster the child's immune system. This immune support is particularly valuable as toddlers explore their environment, encountering new germs and pathogens.

The act of breastfeeding also promotes optimal oral and facial development in toddlers. The natural sucking motion required during breastfeeding contributes to the development of facial muscles, jaw alignment, and palate shape, potentially reducing the risk of orthodontic issues later in life.

Beyond the physical benefits, extended breastfeeding can support a smooth transition into more independent eating habits. Toddlers who breastfeed often exhibit a greater acceptance of a variety of flavors and textures in their diet. Breastfeeding can serve as a bridge between the comfort of nursing and the exploration of new foods.

In conclusion, breastfeeding toddlers offers a multitude of benefits encompassing nutritional, emotional, and developmental aspects. The continued provision of breast milk aligns with the evolving needs of the growing child, fostering a strong parent-child bond and contributing to the overall health and well-being of the toddler.

Can I take medications while breastfeeding?

Women are often told they need to stop breastfeeding because of medical testing or a medication. Or told that they cannot receive treatment until the child is weaned. The good news is that most medications (even many antidepressants and meds for ADHD) are compatible with breastfeeding, and for those few medications that are a safety issue there are usually acceptable substitutions.  If you do need to take a medication, there are reliable resources to help you make the decision for if it is safe to continue breastfeeding

According to Thomas Hale, RPh, PhD (Medications and Mothers’ Milk 2014, p. 7-12): “It is generally accepted that all medications transfer into human milk to some degree, although it is almost always quite low. Only rarely does the amount transferred into milk produce clinically relevant doses in the infant… Most importantly, it is seldom required that a breastfeeding mother discontinue breastfeeding just to take a medication. It is simply not acceptable for the clinician to stop lactation merely because of heightened anxiety or ignorance on their part. The risks of formula feeding are significant and should not be trivialized. Few drugs have documented side effects in breastfed infants, and we know most of these.”

When you are taking medications and breastfeeding, the age of the baby, the dose of the medication, whether the medication is immediate or extended release, etc are all considerations for the timing of when to take the medication. Always double check your particular medication for drug interactions (for example: if you’re on a thyroid medication you need to avoid fenugreek because it can cause a drug interaction. Fenugreek is one of the most common herbal supplements used in “milk boosting” products). If you’re concerned about the medication you’re being prescribed or are being told you need to pump and dump or wean, please consult with an IBCLC to confirm. 

Breastfeeding with nipple piercings

Will nipple piercings impact breastfeeding? In my experience, the majority of people who’ve had a piercing will have absolutely ZERO issues with breastfeeding. But every body is different in how it reacts to taking out the jewelry out prior to breastfeeding. Just like with pierced ears,  occasionally the hole left by jewelry will scar closed, or partially closed, which can inhibit milk from coming out certain nipple pores. Often, the longer the time since the piercings were initially placed the better the outcome as the nipple has had time to properly heal. Other concerns may include nerve damage (the piercing happened to go through right at the nerve and damages it) that impacts milk let down or extra holes created by the piercings that lead to milk coming out of unexpected places! I have (rarely) seen mastitis and abscesses from previous nipple piercings, but that is NOT common.

Breastfeeding with the nipple jewelry in place is never recommended as it can make it difficult for the infant to latch-on correctly, increases the risk of choking on loose or dislodged jewelry, and can damage the inside of the baby’s mouth. If you are going to take your jewelry in and out every feeding, make sure you are being extremely careful with hand washing and jewelry sanitizing to reduce the risk of infection. Best practice says take the piercings out for the entirety of your breastfeeding journey. Laid back breastfeeding positions and extra nursing pads to catch the excess milk can help. You may also need to find which direction your baby needs to face if you notice leaking milk from additional holes created by the piercing if they are not in baby’s mouth. Many women go on to breastfeed successfully with a history of pierced nipples, but if you’re having any problems or have concerns, see an IBCLC lactation consultant. 


Baby cheek dimples


If a baby's cheeks are dimpled or they makes a clicking sound when breast or bottle feeding, they is not latched well. It can be a sign of a shallow latch, wrong shape bottle nipple, issues from a small/retracted jaw, signs of a cleft palate, or baby may have a tongue tie. If baby feeds without dimpling or clicking at the breast but has these symptoms on a bottle, consider a different bottle system. If baby has dimpling and clicking on both bottle AND breast, it’s worth further investigating with the help of an IBCLC lactation consultant to figure out why.

#dimples #dimplegirl #breastfeedingmama #breastfedbaby #breastfeedingsupport #breastfeedingproblems

Can I start collecting colostrum before baby is born?


Hand expression is the most effective tool for emptying colostrum from the breast when baby is sleepy or not efficient at the breast in the first 3-5 days after delivery. When baby isn’t latching immediately after birth, many hospital lactation consultants will have the mom start  pumping. This is a great way to stimulate the breast, but many get discouraged from not seeing much colostrum come out with those first few pumps. 

Colostrum is a thick, nutrient dense first milk. It starts in a small amount and moves slow to help baby learn how to practice sucking, swallowing and breathing  without getting overwhelmed by a faster flow. Colostrum has been in the breast since 10-14 weeks gestation so it is ready for whenever baby is born, even if baby is born premature. 

You can actually start practicing hand expression while you’re still pregnant. It is a phenomenal skill to practice in case you need to hand express after baby is born. It will also give you the confidence that you have milk and do not need to wait for “milk to come in” To start, you’ll want to gently prime the breast. Using your fingers like combs or in gentle strokes, massage the breast from back to front. The colostrum is made at the back. These gentle strokes and massages encourages the milk to move from the back of the breast, down the breast ductal system to the nipple at the front. You can also gently shake the breast to help stimulate the movement of milk. After a less than a minute of massage you’re ready to express your milk. There are multiple ways to hand express, and I will show you several different ways. You’ll want to practice different techniques until you find what works for you and your body. Some people can hand express with either hand, and some will find they need to use their dominant hand. There is no one right or wrong way, it is what works for you and your body.  To start, take your hand in a C or U position. The breast is a circle, so either position is fine, and you’ll want to experiment with both until you find the sweet spot on your own breast that works for you to start seeing your colostrum come. You want your finger and thumb opposite of each other on the areola not too close to the nipple. You’ll bring your hand back into the breast and compress your fingers together, trying to make them meet behind the areola and nipple area. Compress and release. You may have to do this gentle compresss and release for a minute or two before you start to see the glistening drops of colostrum from the nipple. If you don’t see anything after a few compresses, go back to gentle massage. You can switch breasts often.  Be mindful to bring your fingers together  from equal points cross from each other on the circle of the areola. If you are asymmetrical, you won’t see any movement.  

Usually the first time you try, you may see only a drop or two from each side. You cannot run out of colostrum or have colostrum change to mature milk until your placenta is birthed. As long as you are a low risk pregnancy and not on bed or pelvic rest, it is considered safe to hand express. This should not hurt. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop and find a local IBCLC lactation consultant to help you practice. If you have questions about antenatal hand expression, make sure to ask your IBCLC lactation consultant during your prenatal breastfeeding consultation. 


Breast pumps only use suction, so if you use some compressions on the breast with your hands to start moving the milk to fill the ducts, it might flow easier when pumping. Using the pump to stimulate your hormones and then ending with lots of hand expression will actually help you see milk move. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see any colostrum the first few times you pump after birth. Pumps are not as efficient as your hands or your baby once they’re awake and alert.