New mothers are often confused when they are clearly producing enough milk, but baby just does not want to feed or appears fussing or squirmy during feedings. Hyperactive letdown can cause a myriad of symptoms for baby, but most moms have no idea producing too much milk can cause just as much difficulty breastfeeding as producing too little milk.
What is Hyperactive Letdown?
Hyperactive letdown occurs when mom produces too much breast milk. When she starts breastfeeding an excessive amount of foremilk is released. Foremilk is watery and can easily choke baby or cause baby to swallow too much air.
Symptoms of Hyperactive Letdown: Mom
Mom may notice an excessive amount of milk leaking from breasts before, during and after breastfeeding. Milk may forcefully squirt out of the breast rather than letdown easily making it difficult for baby to swallow with pushing air into the stomach. Mom may also notice she:
- Soaks through breast pads quickly.
- Develops mastitis or plugged milk ducts.
- Feels breasts are engorged or overfull.
- Leaks a lot of milk from the opposite breast when breastfeeding.
Symptoms of Hyperactive Letdown: Baby
Hyperactive letdown affects feeding efficiency and may cause infants to shy away from the breastfeeding. Infants may experience:
- Rapid Weight Gain
- Explosive Stools
- Frequent Urination
- Unsatisfied After Feeding
- Frequent Spitting Up
- Feeds Frequently but Only Briefly
How to Solve Hyperactive Letdown Issues
Hyperactive letdown is associated with overproduction of breast milk. To reduce symptoms of hyperactive letdown for mom and baby, feed on only one breast and wait at least two hours from the start of feeding to try the other breast. Feeding a slightly sleepy baby reduces urgency and consumed air – thus reducing gas and spit-up. Hand expressing milk from overfull breasts may help decrease built-up pressure and allow baby to feed beyond foremilk to hind milk.
Will I Always Have Hyperactive Letdown?
Overactive or hyperactive letdown is not necessarily a medical condition, so there is no definite answer for women wondering if they will have trouble with every child. There are reports from women who have experienced hyperactive letdown with multiple children, but after the first bout they learned how to deal with extra milk production and manage much better with subsequent experiences.
Hyperactive letdown is a common problem for new mothers, especially during the first few months of breastfeeding when milk is coming in before supply parallels infant demand. By patient, baby may act fussy and uncomfortable for a few days, but most women notice significant improvement as breast milk production evens out with infant demand.