Not every baby needs 15 minutes per side. Some babies take a full feeding in only a few minutes, and from just one breast per feeding. Other babies may feed for a few minutes off each side. Older, more distractible babies are efficient eaters with more important things to do than state at your chest. They may graze at the boob a few minutes at a time or want to go back and forth from side to side.
In general, you know baby is getting enough breast milk when you have a pain free latch where the nipple goes in and out of baby’s mouth the same shape. You can hear baby swallow and don’t need to keep them awake at the breast for them to continue feeding. Baby should be making lots of heavy wet diapers and pooping daily or every other day. They also gain weight to their own curve and are a similar size of your unique family genetics.
If your baby typically latches for you, and feeds well, and refuses to latch, they most likely are done. Follow your baby’s lead and get to know their feeding habits. Trust your baby and trust your body. If you’re concerned about how your baby is feeding, schedule and appointment with a breastfeeding expert: an IBCLC lactation consultant.
Signs of an over supply:
😳Baby gulps quickly at the breast, feeds for only a few minutes and then refuses the breast, or bites during let down to slow the flow
😳Baby gains weight quicker than expected
😳Baby has a high amount of spit up, coughing or choking during or after feeding
😳You can pump a large volume in a very short amount of time (I knew one mom that could pump 8 ounces in 5 minutes 😳😳)
The over supply may be caused by:
🌼Excessive pumping or Haakaa use in the early days after birth
🌼Some babies’ tongues stimulate the nipple differently, sending a signal to continue to make milk. This can occasionally be seen in the tongue tie population
🌼With every pregnancy you have more milk making glands and it can increase supply with each new baby
Coping with an oversupply:
💗Side lying or laid back nursing uses gravity to slow your milk flow
💗If baby cannot keep up with your flow, pull baby off during your first or fastest let down and allow your milk to flow into a nursing pad or towel. Latch baby once the flow slows
💗Avoid pumping or using a Haakaa as this tells your body to continue making more milk than you need
💗Try block feeding (feed on only one breast for a designated block of time, like 2-4 hours)
💗If baby is gaining weight too quickly (1+ pounds or more per week) and is spitting up heavily, time your feeding to end before baby over eats. Use a pacifier or distraction to help baby’s mouth be satisfied with sucking while the tummy has time to digest and tell the brain it’s actually full
Usually as supply regulates around 11-14 weeks, the symptoms go away and no further intervention is needed. Some of these symptoms can mimic other issues, so work with an IBCLC and weigh baby before and after several feedings can give you an idea of what’s actually going on.
Breasts are made of a network of ducts, covered by a layer of fatty tissue. During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone enlarge the milk ducts and multiply the glandular tissue that produces milk. After birth, estrogen and progesterone drop and prolactin and oxytocin rise. Prolactin makes milk production and oxytocin releases it into the ducts. Extra blood and fluid fill the breast just after birth to supoort your body adding hormone receptors in the breast to make milk. The blood and fluid surrounds the ducts and this extra pressure is what makes your breasts feel full between feeding. This blood and fluid reabsorb around 6-8 weeks once supply is established and you won’t feel that full/soft feeling except when you go a really long time between feeding or pumping. Breasts go back to prepregnancy size when supply regulates around 11-14 weeks but continue to make milk. When you wean from breastfeeding, it can take several months for prolactin levels to return to baseline (which is why you may still see milk for months after weaning). Once you stop breastfeeding, the milk making structures actually self-destruct – a process that involves massive cellular suicide, and the removal of the debris. Around 6 months after weaning, the milk-producing tissue is replaced with fatty tissue. If you return to your pre-pregnancy weight, your breasts most likely will return to the same size. They may not be as “perky” because the skin is a bit more stretched and the connective and fatty tissues in the breasts often shifts during pregnancy and breastfeeding. While they may look smaller after weaning most of us can expect that our breasts will return to a similar size as they were pre-pregnancy. They’re just a little more lived in and well loved.