Breastfeeding parents with breastmilk oversupply learn to accept it as a blessing and a curse. In the newborn stage breastmilk oversupply comes with a host of problems from slow weight gain, fussiness with gas and spit ups, to frequent on and off nursings due to gagging on milk and filling up too quick. However, as baby enters the toddler stage and milk supply evens out a new wave of upset is sure to come. Here is how to handle it peacefully.
It is a blessing to know that milk is always there, dripping and ready for baby’s lips. It becomes a comfort for both the parent with breastmilk oversupply and nursling as it provides instant gratification. The freezer stash is growing and pumping at work yields more than enough for tomorrow’s bottles. Oversupply can also be a curse. Frothy poops. Bad gas. So much spit up. You want to nurse again? I need not say more.
A breastfed child most certainly learns while spending time at the breast. When babies learn the typical routine of milk spewing down the throat to the point of gagging a bit, they accept it as normal. Baby nurses in a pattern that best suits their personal needs given the forecast. In a nursing relationship that is purely child-led, oversupply evens out naturally in due time.
Sometimes, just when you think you’ve leveled everything out and helped your child to breastfeed more easily, said child brings on a behavioral plot-twist. Instant gratification is gone and the child must learn a new routine: working for and waiting for the milk! This can be frustrating to the little one who only knew chugging as a means of receiving nourishment. This child may take a while to adjust expectations when latched and more noticably behaviors.
Issues I have been dealing with in this situation with a young toddler are usually during the evening and include fussing, kicking, body jerking, pulling at the nipples, latching back and forth between breasts, kneading, grabbing, maybe even a bite. If your breastfeeding toddler is also experiencing frustration with a harder to tap supply, help them through this transition peacefully and gently.
The best way to help an older child relax while initiating letdown is to be proactive. While nursing much less, it is still important to remain hydrated throughout the day. Continue to eat healthy and possibly treat yourself to a lactation cookie midday. Set the mood to be relaxing with light music and soft lighting. Talk to your nursling in a soft voice and validate their frustration. Reward them verbally for their efforts. “I know you want milk right now, you are frustrated and are working so hard to get it! Keep suckling, you are being so patient.”
While it may be stressful and tempting to yell, spank, bite, or punish the nursling who physically hurts us during a nursing session, remember that it is developmentally normal for this behavior and it is our job to guide by example. By being mindful of the source of the nursling’s behavior and responding through gentle methods, we equip the child with coping skills and confidence that may be useful in future delayed gratification.
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