How much milk does my baby need?
- Breastfed babies from one to six months take an average of 25-35 ounces per 24 hour day. (Breastfed babies take 20% of their overall calories at night!)
- Research found that formula fed babies take on average 33% more milk per day than breastfed babies because breastfed babies digest breast milk more efficiently than formula. Formula fed babies need more calories just to maintain normal function because they are almost twofold less efficient at digesting nonhuman milk.
- One breast or two? Depends on your breast storage capacity and your baby's volume needs. Some mothers can store 4-5 ounces per breast, so baby would only need to eat from one at each feeding. Other moms can store 1-2 ounces and baby would need to feed from both breasts. Storage capacity is not indicated by breast size, but by glandular tissue in the breast. You will get to know your breast storage capacity as you get know your breasts and your baby.
- Breast fullness between feedings only lasts the first two to three weeks as childbirth hormones are still active in the body. Breasts will begin to feel normal around one month and feeling of fullness will only happen if you have an unusually large milk production, miss a feeding or two, or go very long between feedings.
- Research indicates that on average, babies take about 67% of the milk in their mothers breasts at each feeding, leaving on average 33% of milk behind in the breast. If a mother wants to increase her rate of milk production, she can increase the number of feedings or drain the breasts more fully.
- Breastfed babies will take different amounts throughout the day.
- Breasts are not supposed to stay engorged forever. When milk transitions around day 3-5 after birth, extra blood and fluid fill the breast to help support making milk. These go away around 6-8 weeks postpartum. So for the first few weeks, your breasts may feel full between feedings and then soft after feeding or pumping. That sensation is SUPPOSED to go away over time as your body becomes more efficient at making milk. No longer feeling full between feedings is not an indication that you're losing supply. Your body is more efficient. This coincides with baby becoming more efficient at taking feedings (may only feed for a few minutes) and growth spurts.
- Milk expression is a learned skill. One study found that 10% of moms whose babies were doing very well at the breast were unable to pump milk effectively. Pumping volumes do not indicate the volumes your baby can get at the breast.
|Baby's age||Average ounces per feeding|
|Three days||1 ounce|
|One week||1.5 ounces|
|Two weeks||2-2.5 ounces|
|One month||3-4 ounces|
The first week: By the end of your baby's first week of frequent breastfeeding, milk production increases from 1 ounce per day on day one to 10-12 ounces per day by day five to seven. Baby's stomach expands from the size of a large marble to the size of a chicken egg. Baby can take 1 ounce per feeding.
The second and third weeks: Baby can now hold 2-3 ounces at a feeding and takes 20-25 ounces per 24 hour period. Babies often increase the number and length of feedings due to growth spurts.
The fourth week: Baby can now take 3-4 ounces for a total of 25-35 ounces per day. Amazingly, at around one month you are producing just about as much milk each feeding as your baby will ever need.
One month and on: At around one month, a breastfed baby reaches her peak daily milk intake of 25-35 ounces per 24 hour period. This stays roughly the same through six months of age until she begins solid foods at six months.
Achieving a good latch DO’S:
- Nose to nipple
- Head tilted slightly back
- Chin goes to breast first
Achieving a good latch DONT’S:
- Don't apply pressure to the back of baby's head
- Don't allow the soles of baby's feet to push against any hard surface
- Don't leave open spaces between you and your baby