Overactive Tits, Please Calm Down…

I’m pretty sure that my breasts weren’t this enthusiastic with the milk production first time around. Is it some sort of phenomenon that on the second baby they go into overdrive, squirting milk at any and every opportunity, turning on like leaky taps the minute you even dare think about your baby’s cute little hungry face, his – oh! Emergency milk-spill happening! 

I do remember the heady, newborn days with Angelica when my breasts hadn’t quite worked out what they were doing yet – I’d wake up to soaked sheets, the pads in my bra having failed to absorb the river of milk that had streamed out whilst I was sleeping. But I’m sure that this didn’t last long. There were a few times when she pulled away from the breast and cried because (I assume) she couldn’t handle the jet-streams of milk that were firing out at her at (approximately) seventy-eight miles per hour. When you think about it, it can’t be that nice to be a tiny baby, with a tiny soft mouth, latching on to a lovely soft nipple to find that it suddenly spurts liquid at the back of your throat so fast you feel as though you’re drowning.

So, I can sort of see why New Baby Ted is getting a bit cross with my over-enthusiastic milk production or, to give it it’s official name, forceful letdown. We’re almost at four months, and my knockers are still at “power shower” level. You know when you get into a shower and you have to sort of dance in and out of the water stream, because other wise it’s like someone’s nailing long, glass shards through the tops of your feet? Well that’s what my milk flow is like. Nearly every time.

I’m not complaining, because I’d much rather deal with too much milk than worry about not having enough (I did have a lull with Angelica at one point, and had to work quite hard to build up supply again), but it can get a bit frustrating when your baby gags and splutters at the start of every feed. I want to say “dear tits, please calm the f*ck down!” I don’t know what sort of world disaster they think they’re preparing for; it’s like they think I’m going to have to feed the five thousand or something. And they are always – always – on red alert; I only need to look at New Baby Ted and I get that familiar tingling in my shoulder blades that starts it all off…

With the gagging, spluttering thing, it has got better over time – to be honest, I started writing this post months ago when the over-active tits problem was at its peak – but I can still write my name in milk on the shower door when I have a wash in the morning. Really, it would probably be a good time to start expressing, but I simply can’t be arsed to spend my small amount of free time plugged in to an electric milking machine. It’s going to have to happen at some point, though I must say that if I haven’t started expressing by the time weaning begins (in about two months’ time) then I won’t bother at all. If there’s ever the odd feed I’m not there for then I think I’ll do formula instead – I don’t know whether I have the energy or patience to sit there extracting breast milk for the odd, random feed when the baby has stopped exclusively having breastmilk. It’s just too labour-intensive for my brain to cope with! We shall see…

Anyway: gagging and spluttering I dealt with by feeding “upwards”, so that the baby was above the nipple and working against gravity. Really, the best thing to do would be to express off a bit of the fullness before each feed, but I’m simply not organised enough. By the time the baby is hungry, I’m just about alive enough to whip a boob out and latch him on there and then – if I had to try and foresee when he would be wanting a feed then I’d be at it all day, squirting into the sink and forgetting to put my breast pads back in and (sometimes) forgetting to put the actual breast back in, which was what happened the other week after I had been breastfeeding Ted in a field.

Anyone else have overactive breasts? Is it a “subsequent baby” thing? More common after the first? Or have I just completely forgotten the feeding days with Angelica already?! At which point can you safely stop wearing breastpads? Remind me. Make my day. I do love breastfeeding, but bloody hell is it hard work when you already have a toddler to run around after.

(By the way, the nude bra in the pictures is BRILLIANT if you want something cheap and cheerful that’ll go under any colour t-shirt or top and sort of disappear. It’s not remotely sexy, but it’s smooth, and it’s comfy but at the same time gives quite a good shape. I bought mine at ASOS here* – it was £19.)

*© 2017 The Uphill®: *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. All opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. "The Uphill" and "Ruth Crilly" are registered trademarks.

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34 Comments

  1. Lucy
    May 27, 2017 / 1:18 pm

    Ha, this really made me laugh! I’m on my third in three years and yes it gets worse….I’m like Fireman Sam with breastpads. With my older two I had to wear breastpads for the whole time I breastfed and they couldn’t be cheap ones or else I’d be up to my neck (literally) in milk. Goodness knows how I’ll fair this time but it’s reassuring to know that considering the state of the world at the mo I could feed a small village should nuclear war break out! Defo one of my favourite blogs….thank you x

  2. Kayleigh
    May 27, 2017 / 1:30 pm

    Ha ha god I do not miss the early days! Mine were like this – preparing for an apocalypse I can only assume. This was with my first (and only) baby so help me if it gets worse for subsequent tiny humans! He is 11.5months now and I still have to wear pads, I could probably get away with it in the day but the fear is real.

  3. El
    May 27, 2017 / 3:05 pm

    Would you consider donating some of your breast milk to your local hospital? It’s mainly used for preemies in ICU who need all the help they can get

  4. shin ae
    May 27, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    Oh, my, yes. I had a couple different ways of handling it: (1) The messiest: lie down on my back and put baby on my chest, tummy to tummy, to feed, or (2) Put baby in a sling in kind of a sitting position, lift shirt, and let baby suckle while I went about my business.

    My shirt was always wet. I soaked straight through the nursing pads. It was such a mess.

  5. Tanja
    May 27, 2017 / 5:41 pm

    Ruth, you are absolutely brilliant and a true inspiration! Love your posts. My breastfeeding experience is similar, I had a lot of milk and an oversupply even with my first baby. The only thing that helped was pumping. If I had not pumped, I don’t know what would have happened… My breasts felt as if they were bursting with milk. This situation did not change until I started weaning around month eight/nine.

  6. Latoya
    May 27, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    I just had my second baby 10 days ago, so I can’t comment if my ‘fulsome’ supply will still be as forceful in a few months time, but I remember with my first that I was still overproducing 6-7 months in O_o Poor thing was drowning for so long! I wore breast pads for ages. TBH I pumped a lot in the beginning and I think that was the PROBLEM, not the solution. I haven’t pumped at all this time around and my son seems to be managing much better.

    As a side note – been loving this blog (originally found you at AMR); our children were born at similar times, I’ve had c-sections with both and we’re the same age, so it’s been highly relatable 🙂

  7. Lauren
    May 27, 2017 / 6:45 pm

    This happens to me and its my first baby nothing worse than my little man pulling off and getting squirted in the face

  8. May 27, 2017 / 7:08 pm

    I have no clue if it is a subsequent baby thing, I had too little with both kids.

  9. Sarah
    May 27, 2017 / 7:24 pm

    Hi Ruth, Did you get measured for your nursing bras towards the end of your pregnancies or do you think it’s best to wait until after baby is born to see how much your cup size changes?

  10. May 27, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Ha! I saw the title and thought ‘this is my life right now’! My baby girl is just a week older than Ted I think, and this is also my second child. My milk is just extreme. I still have days when one boob will fill up and go rock hard and slightly square(?!) which I’m sure only happened in the early weeks with my first.
    My daughter latches on and then has to come off to take a breather, with the same facial expression that I imagine I would have if I stuck my head out the car window on the motorway.
    I’m guaranteed to leak everywhere as soon as I put on a clean bra. My boobs just know. It’s like they’re staging a mini protest for having being smothered by a two day old not-so-clean-please-don’t-judge-me bra.
    I also spray on the glass in the shower, which my husband just rolls his eyes out when I call him to come and watch. The novelty will never wear off for me.
    So, less of a comment, and more of a short story about my life right now. I just felt the need to pipe up and say “me too!”, because sometimes when I’m lying there in a puddle of my own milk I can feel like I’m the only one.
    Lorna x

  11. Sarah
    May 27, 2017 / 10:45 pm

    I have one that is and one that’s normal. In the morning I look lopsided. My husband has taken to calling me “Lefty” (GROAN). Consequently, I’ve had extra soreness on my left nipple and latch issues. Baby is two months old, and it’s going strong.

  12. Rhiannon
    May 27, 2017 / 11:17 pm

    I’m 7 weeks in with baby number 1, and while I don’t think I’m quite at the level you describe (haven’t tried writing my name on the shower – will do!) I am going through breast pads at the rate of knots! If you haven’t already tried one, I’d highly recommend one of these silicone pumps for expressing: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LZ2ZVCY/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_XBGkzbNZ0FN60
    You just give it a squeeze and pop it on the breast you’re not using while feeding and it does the rest – I’ve found I can get about at much as with a traditional pump, and so much less hassle. You just need to watch out for flailing babylegs that could knock it off!

  13. Sarah
    May 27, 2017 / 11:20 pm

    Thank god for you writing this. Iam literally reading all of the above and having dealt with the exact same thing feel some relief that there is someone else. I’ve breast fed all my babies and always had lots of milk but this time it’s been like having two soda syphons, every single time I’ve gone to feed. It peaked at about 8 weeks at which point I rang my local BF consultant….she wasn’t available & didn’t ring back. I fought on and on, having multiple let downs of milk during feeds, baby choking constantly & becoming agitated. I dreaded feeding in public. I spoke to other mums and no one had anything similar. I then googled and after reading realised that I too had a ‘forceful letdown’. The relief of finding out it was such a thing, honestly I can’t tell you. I too fed with baby more upright or leaning back, it made feeding in public less easy than I was used to but I’ve carried on, feeding in the car generally where I could, take her on and off when needed . The car hilariously has sprays of milk here and there when you look closely Now baby is 6 and half months and although I’ve still got tons of milk she can def cope with it better and Ive managed to get through it. We are now okay but had this been my first it would have been awful, having had previous babies I just knew it had to get easier.Thank you Ruth for being so honest, I wish only I had read this at Christmas when I was drowning in milk & questioning what I was doing wrong. By the way Iam the mother of 5 and honestly the opinion of most people I approached was ‘oh you will know what you’re doing’ which in turn made me feel like a total failure for actually not after 5. Just by knowing your not the only one helps massively when tackling this motherhood lark

  14. Sarah
    May 28, 2017 / 3:05 am

    I have to also add that a hands-free pumping bustier (Medela makes one, you can find it on Amazon- has holes cut out on nipples for pump flanges) has made my life so much easier. No longer must I sit hunched over my breasts like some bizarre sleep deprived troll mining for liquid gold.

  15. Louise
    May 28, 2017 / 4:24 am

    I just love reading your blog! I’ve a 6 week old baby boy & am really relating to so much of what you’re going through. Especially the over supply of milk & fast let down. I got the Hakaa silicone pump which just attaches by suction & it catches the let down without stimulating the production of more milk. I use it to take the pressure off an engorged boob or to the catch the let down on one side while my baby feeds off the other. I’ve filled bags of milk this way. It’s so handy & fast compared to the electric pump I borrowed from a friend.
    Congratulations on the birth of Ted – he’s gorgeous! 🙂

    • Claire
      May 29, 2017 / 9:50 am

      I got one of those! Bloody brilliant! I used to put it on the opposite side to what I was feeding from and managed to get nearly 6oz out!!

      • Louise
        May 29, 2017 / 6:39 pm

        It’s genius isn’t it?! Except it’s too easy to knock it off & spill that precious loot with flailing baby arms!!

  16. Lisa
    May 28, 2017 / 6:01 am

    NEVER a squirt with my 1st, and this time around I daren’t go anywhere without an army of breast pads. Squirty McSquirt!
    You are a champ for exclusively breastfeeding this long as a mum of 2 tots! I did with my eldest for ages, but no.2 already has 2 bottles of formula a day and he’s only 10 weeks. Just too exhausted chasing around his 22 month older bro. So happy I found your blog- have felt like utter failure of a mum 2nd time around so its reassuring to read that you also found it quite a battle in the early days. Thanks for being so candid and also managing to make me giggle regularly!

  17. Kerrie
    May 28, 2017 / 8:07 am

    I’m 2 months into breastfeeding my first baby and I have the same problem. Tried to feed baby in Costa yesturday and it was a challenge trying to stop the sprays from going into my cappuccino… it’s such a pain as my baby keeps unlatching every few seconds and I have to reposition her back on the nipple every time, not to mention the leaky boobs situation! I didn’t realise that there is ever a time when you can stop wearing breast pads so this has given me a light at the end of the tunnel! X

  18. Jody
    May 28, 2017 / 8:18 am

    I’ve got a 3 week old boy and a 20 month old girl and am currently in the overactive boobs phase. Nothing compared to the first time round though! I still have a very strong letdown, but not the massive over supply I had with the first. When I had my daughter I had no idea what I was doing and thought I was doing a good thing by pumping almost constantly to build up a “freezer stash”. Unfortunately this led to an even bigger over supply and I could practically water the garden, wash the car and fill the bath with my boobs!!!

  19. Victoria Cruz
    May 28, 2017 / 8:51 am

    I can’t comment about the second baby, but I definitely had an overactive let-down. Poor Alex was drowning most of the time. It caused all sorts of gagging, bloating & gas for him. I ended up removing him for the let-down, then carrying on; had to have a towel next to me. Ahh, I still remember being constantly sticky. But I saw such an improvement in him after that. I’m now 2 months post-weaning and still having to wear pads – damn I hope it ends soon 🙂

  20. Jenny Warden
    May 28, 2017 / 9:23 am

    If you try leaning back into a chair or in bed when you feed it’ll slow the letdown and gravity. Worth a try

  21. Alice
    May 28, 2017 / 4:51 pm

    Oh it’s useful to know it can be worse second time around! I wore medela breast shells first time – didn’t need to pump as they collected a lot of leaking milk when I wasn’t feeding and as I had simultaneous letdown. Look rather odd under clothes though, I wouldn’t recommend wearing them outside of the house!

  22. Michaela
    May 29, 2017 / 7:30 am

    Hahahaha I’m currently reading this feeding my one-week-old and poor baby definitely struggles with the amount of milk my boobs are shooting out! She sometimes needs a little break because it’s too much lol
    Leaky boobs are also very common but at least I’m able to feed my daughter so I don’t get annoyed when I have to change my outfit multiple times a day.

  23. Claire
    May 29, 2017 / 9:47 am

    God yes! I constantly sprayed my LG every time I fed her!! I think it was because she had reflux so I kinda had to double feed her so my boobs didn’t calm down until I started to combination feed with formula. My boobs were constant drips! The wasn’t until I only bf during the night that I could get away with not wearing breast pads

  24. Gillian Pidler
    May 29, 2017 / 11:49 am

    Aren’t our tits just amazing though?!! I knew that when feeding your boobs will produce the right amount for your baby as and when and adjust accordingly but did you also know that apparently they can produce just the right nutrients that your baby needs and adjust accordingly. It’s amazingly clever!! Haha to writing your name in milk in the shower!! I used to squirt hubby if he misbehaved!!

  25. Emma
    May 29, 2017 / 1:27 pm

    Haha. In the same shoes too, with first baby, but they say subsequent babies are even worse. However, the not funny bit was when I got mastitis a few days ago, with fever so high I was uncoscious, plus pain so strong I would rather have given birth to twins that day (naturally!) instead :-(. So, the freak I am, I researched and researched and I think I am phd level by now on milk oversupply. I attach an article which is a pretty good summary for you Ladies to read. A lot can be done to balance demand and supply – let’s see if all those things work, I just started applying those strategies today… https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/oversupply-symptoms-causes-and-what-do-if-you-have-too-much-milk
    Hang in there, ladies and don’t forget to put back those boobs (happened to me too, neighbor airbnb group on balcony must have thought it was some local specialty in Hungary…)

  26. May 30, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    This post really made me laugh!!!! Although, it also made me feel a wee bit jealous. My left boob has a forceful let down (thanks for introducing me to this term!) but the right tit is lazy as fook…..I spend far too long worrying about low milk supply, so I’d take a wee more forceful a let down. They really are like Goldilocks porridge, too strong, too weak…..gah!

  27. Ncf21
    June 7, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    I had this with my first (and only). I had to use nipple shields at first and the health visitor watched in amazement as they filled up and overflowed AS the baby was feeding. My daughter used to do quite often do giant projectile voms of milk after feeding which I suspected was in retaliation at having jets aimed down her throat… I used to keep a milk container handy before each feed and squirt the initial spray into that before latching her on. Used to collect a fair amount.

  28. Charlie
    June 13, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    I have the same problem but it was much worse with my first (now just turned 2). With my second (3 months today) I had a couple of lifesavers on hand so although I’m still leaky, it’s nowhere near as mad as last time. Here are my tips:
    1) MILK COLLECTION SHELLS: I’ve stopped using them now but for the first couple of months every time I fed I would put one into the other bra cup and whatever it caught I transferred to a jar in the fridge, which was full by the end of the day and could go into the freezer. I’ll admit it was a bit of a faff having to get up and transfer the milk, you’re supposed to sterilise the shells every 24 hours and if you forget you’ve got the thing in and then bend over… well, you can imagine it’s even more disastrous than leaking through your breast pads. But it saved so much hassle with leaking through whilst feeding (as long as I kept an eye on it to see that it didn’t overflow!) and I now have a freezer full of milk (okay it’s a small freezer and it’s not quite full, but there is masses of the stuff in there) without having expressed any at all. Once I decided I had enough in the freezer to feed a small baby army I started putting it in a cup for my two year old, which he loved.
    2) SAGE LEAF TEA: I don’t know where you can buy sage leaves in England – you can get bags of it from the chemist in Austria where I live – but if you can get hold of sage teabags they should do the trick too. My midwife told me to drink this when the tidal waves of milk started coming in and it has helped to keep supply down to a slightly more normal level since then. I drank 3 cups a day for about 3 days until the supply had calmed down and I haven’t drunk any since then. The trick is to make it so strong that it’s really disgusting – a big handful of sage leaves to a mug of water. Pretty gross but very effective, so be careful if you try it!
    If you need to boost your supply fennel (seed) tea is supposed to help.

    • Charlie
      June 13, 2017 / 7:00 pm

      I bought the milk collection shells from Medela on Amazon.

  29. June 22, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    What a wonderfully honest post. I am reading it as I prepare to go pump at work. No one really did tell me how hard it would be to breast feed (to afraid to scare me off I bet) but it is hard. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be with over supply issues.

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