Sunday, July 15, 2012

Breastfeeding: Oversupply & the FDBF method

So, my little guy is turning 2 months old on Tuesday. I am so relieved that he and I have both figured out the breastfeeding now. He hardly ever comes off screaming when the letdown happens, and it really doesn't hurt anymore.

Flash back to when he was a month old. You'd think not making enough milk would be the worst issue you could have. I know I would have been devastated if that was the case, as I had known I wanted to breastfeed from the day I found out I was pregnant. I had the opposite problem: so much milk we were both drowning in it! I had planned ahead for issues with breastfeeding, though, I had bought the La Leche League book (they are hardcore!) and stayed in contact with the Lactation Consultant from the hospital where I delivered. So, when I was in horrible pain from too much milk and baby boy was screaming from getting too much, too fast, I did what the book and the LC had suggested: let him scream while I tried to hand express enough out for us both to not be in pain. On top of this, I tried extreme block feeding. Usual block feeding requires you to feed off of the same breast for just 3-6 hours, but this was not doing much for the amount coming out. I ended up doing 8-12 hour blocks (one at night, one during the day). Pumping scared me since everything I read said it would just increase my supply. All this time I kept looking for a better solution. He was still having foamy, green poops and screaming in my ear when I tried to latch him, and I was spraying milk all over him, me, and whatever pillow we were propped on.
Luckily, I found a study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal on the effectiveness of the "Full drainage and block feeding method". Now, with a degree in Biology and a background in research, I find scientific papers to be more reassuring than discussion board posts by angry/overtired mamas. Essentially this method is encouraging the use of a pump, but in combination with block feeding. (Read just the "abstract" or summary if the entire research process does not interest you.) The theory behind it is that women with too much milk actually have what they call "milk lakes" that need to be completely drained before their body gets the signal to cut it out with the overproduction. This is totally contrary to everything I had read, pumping was a no-no due to nipple stimulation telling your body to make more milk.
So, I gave it a try, but modified what's suggested a bit. Since I was only using one breast at night and one in the day, when I woke up the next morning I completely pumped the engorged breast until almost nothing was coming out (I believe that day I ended up getting like 7-8oz). Then, I continued my "extreme" block feeding as usual. Again, read the article, they suggest block feeding of only 3 hours at first. The problem resolved itself within 3 days, so grateful.
Are you breastfeeding? Did you want to, but can't and now are bottle feeding? Share your stories!


  1. Wow! Thank you for posting this!!! My daughter is 6 months old and nobody could tell me what was causing her green, frothy and occasionally bloody diarrhea! I'm pretty sure now that the issue is oversupply! I kept giving up on block feeding before because I was only doing if for 3-4 hour blocks, and it wasn't doing anything, so I assumed that oversupply wasn't the issue and I've eliminated tons of foods from my diet. I just started feeding from one side overnight last night and now I'm pumping off the other side. One thing I wanted to mention, in case it might help someone, is that I don't have the typical forceful letdown. I'm sooo hoping this works!!!

    1. Hi, Amanda! I am glad you found this post helpful! Please remember that I am not in anyway a medical or lactation professional.
      Did the green, foamy poo just start at 6 months? It was my understanding that oversupply should resolve eventually, not start up again. Or have you been dealing with this for months now? (If that's the case, I REALLY hope this helps!!)
      Have you looked into virtual lactation consulting? There are a few LC's out there that will Skype with you from home, if there isn't one in your area.
      Also, Breastfeeding USA might have a group in your area. Check out their website!
      Good luck, would love to hear I'd it worked for you!