What to Know About Block Feeding

Medically Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on July 08, 2023
4 min read

‌A lot of breastfeeding women have an oversupply of breast milk, or hypergalactia, when they first start out. When your body overproduces milk for your baby, you could experience mastitis, clogged breast ducts, or other negative side effects. Block feeding can relieve such discomfort and help decrease your milk supply.‌

Block feeding is a common way to slow down milk production. It is one of many ways to treat hypergalactia. It has been proven to relieve discomfort and help your baby regulate its eating.

‌Block feeding is a method used to make your body produce less milk. It focuses on feeding your baby one breast at a time. Block feeding can look like this: ‌

  • About an hour before your baby should eat, pump or express both your breasts as much as you can.
  • When your baby is hungry, feed them from one side. 
  • For the next 3-hour block of time, if your baby initiates more feedings, let them drink from that same breast.
  • Let your baby feed as often as they want from that side.
  • After 3 hours, switch to the other side and do the same thing.
  • If your unused breast gets uncomfortably full, self-express milk until you feel comfortable.

‌After a few days of block feeding, if your hypergalactia doesn’t improve, add more hours to your blocks. You can try feeding in 5- or 6-hour blocks if you still have an oversupply of breast milk.‌

Block feeding helps battle hypergalactia by utilizing your own body’s natural milk-making process. When your breasts are full for 3 to 6 hours, breast cells release the feedback inhibitor of lactation (FIL). It is a whey protein that tells your body to slow down lactation or milk production.‌

When you feed in blocks from one breast and leave the other breast full, FIL is released. The protein calms down your overactive milk supply one breast at a time.

If you have an oversupply of breast milk, you should try block feeding. You don’t need a diagnosis from your healthcare provider. When you have hypergalactia, both you and your baby will have symptoms. Block feeding can help prevent them.‌

If you have increased milk production, your let-down reflex can be too intense for your child. Your letdown reflex is the release of breast milk when the nerves in your breasts are stimulated from your baby’s sucking. Your baby could experience any of the following symptoms:‌

  • Green foamy poop
  • Stomach pain and more gas than usual
  • Choking or coughing at the beginning of a feeding
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Refusing your breast
  • Visible discomfort while breastfeeding‌

You will notice your own symptoms, too. Keep in mind that it’s common for women to have too much milk during the first few weeks of breastfeeding. But it typically self-regulates. If the following symptoms continue for longer than a few weeks, you’ll need to take action:‌

‌If block feeding doesn’t work for you, there are other options for treating your oversupply of breast milk. Be careful when trying new things that will affect your baby’s diet. You need to address your oversupply. But the most important thing is to make sure your baby is getting enough to eat.‌

‌Herbs. Some herbs have been proven to reduce milk supply. Sage and parsley can be eaten or made into tea. Jasmine and peppermint can be directly applied to the breast. You should research each herb before trying it to make sure that you and your baby stay safe.‌‌

Medicine. Before you use pharmaceuticals to reduce your milk supply, talk to your healthcare provider. Some decongestants can decrease milk production. Estrogen, which is found in many birth control pills, helps reduce milk supply. Anti-prolactin drugs are specifically used to slow down the release of the milk-making hormone prolactin.‌‌

Feeding patterns. You can help your baby control how much they eat. Let them drink milk from your first breast as if it were their main meal. Then, offer your second breast as dessert. Don’t expect them to eat as much on the second side as they did on the first.‌‌

Let your baby stop when they want to. If your second breast starts to feel too full or uncomfortable, express or pump just enough milk to feel comfortable. Alternate which breast is the meal and which is the dessert. Over time, your milk supply will go down.

If you try block feeding and still have an oversupply of breast milk, contact your healthcare provider. They can help you resolve your hypergalactia or put you in touch with a lactation consultant you can talk to.