On top of being a busy mom of three kids under the age of four, I am an over-producer of breast milk, aka hyperlactation syndrome. It may sound wonderful, but it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.
Sure, it feels great knowing I can provide my baby all the breast milk she wants plus help other babies in need, but there are many downsides as well.
I have had an oversupply with all three of my kids. The first time around as a new mom, I had no idea it was not normal to produce as much as I was. Not only that, but my son had latch issues so I exclusively pumped anyways. I simply froze the extra milk and stored it in my deep freezer with the intention of weaning early and using up my stash to supplement.
Fast forward two years later when my oldest daughter was born and she was a great latcher. My breastfeeding journey with her was completely different. I felt more experienced yet new to the whole thing since she was my first baby to actually breastfeed from the breast.
I remember while I in the hospital having my daughter when my lactation consultant was shocked to see the OUNCES of COLOSTRUM I was producing as soon as I delivered my daughter. She said she had never seen someone produce so much! She asked me if I ever thought about donating my extra breast milk and that is when my breast milk donation journey began.
Just a few months after I stopped breastfeeding my oldest daughter, I was pregnant again! I knew without a doubt I would have an oversupply again and could not wait to get back into donating.
This time, I have more milk than ever before. Maybe it is because I have learned the best ways to manage my oversupply and have been more strict about staying on schedule with my around-the-clock pumping.
Now onto the downsides of having an oversupply…
1. I’ve had mastitis multiple times. Once I had it so bad I needed IV treatment in the hospital for three days straight – less than 1 week postpartum. Another time I had it chronically for six weeks. I simply could not keep up with the demand and empty fast enough. That blows!
2. I get clogged ducts, hard lumps, pain and leak quite often.
3. I have to pump every three hours no matter where I am. I pump in the car, I pump everywhere!
4. I do not sleep much. Five hours to be exact. That is the longest I can go at night without being woken up in pain. This is no fun when the baby sleeps much longer than that! I have an alarm to get up in the middle of the night to pump EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! Even if I go to bed late, you bet I am up to pump around 2:30-3am ish to pump.
5. Overactive letdown. This is no fun for baby either.
Ok, so now onto the super rewarding part: donating!
I LOVE donating! Do not get me wrong there. I figure if I need to pump for relief and have all this extra milk anyways, why wouldn’t I? The only way I could/would reduce my supply is by slowly weaning to avoid mastitis. But why stop now?!?
I am literally saving lives by providing breast milk to babies in the NICU. Not only that, but I have donated to premature twins who get fed through feeding tubes, a couple who adopted, a mom who survived breast cancer and a double mastectomy, as well as moms who were struggling to provide enough breast milk for their babies. I can just cry thinking about it!!!
So…a day in the life of me!
I pump anywhere from 60-90 ounces of extra breast milk per day. This is after my baby has eaten as much as she wants, whenever she wants. I label and store at least 10 bags of milk per day, averaging 5-6 ounces per bag. I wash and sanitize all pump parts, which includes my special 8 ounce bottles, after every session and my extra milk is then stored in my extra large freezer in my garage. I own four pumps, four pumping bras and a ton of pump parts.
It truly is a labor of love! I spend a significant portion of my day pumping/cleaning/storing breast milk. But I don’t let it get in the way of my daily routine, my morning stroller workout, taking my kids to preschool and soccer, etc. I still love having fun with my family! I try not to let it get in the way of the things that matter most.
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