Do I need to pump overnight to maintain milk supply?


There is a science in how breast milk is made and maintained. The MOTN is when hormones are highest for making milk. Milk removals overnight drives a fuller supply all day long. Strong sucking at the breast overnight also plays a role in delaying periods from returning. Periods have their own cyclical impact on milk supply. The biological body is expecting to directly feed the baby. It doesn’t know we live in a modern era with pumps and freezers. When milk is not being moved, your body correctly assumes the baby is being fed by some other source and drops milk supply to protect the breast from plugs and infection. 

Tiny babies have tiny bellies that need to be fed day and night. As baby grows, so does the size of their stomach. There is no magic weight or age when a baby should stop feeding overnight. There is no scientific evidence to back that up. What we do know is the majority of breastfed babies are nursing at least once a night, if not 2-4 times, until after the first birthday. 

Producing breast milk is about demand and supply. What you move is what you’ll make. If you stop moving milk, your body thinks that milk is no longer needed, and decreases milk production. If your supply is constantly being moved, your body keeps producing more milk. While there is a science behind making milk, your body is art and your anatomy is unique to you. Some breasts have a large storage capacity and can hold more milk before seeing a drop in supply while others hold need milk moved more often to maintain supply. There are some people who can go 6-8  or even 10 hours and still maintain a full supply while others will see a drop when going more than 3-4 hours between feeding and pumping.

Feeding (or pumping) over night and milk supply are linked. If you’re making adequate milk during the day while sleeping long stretches at night, AWESOME!! If you’re going long stretches at night and day supply is dipping, that may be contributing. 

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