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Wondering about low milk supply?

If you’re like me, you may have wondered about how much milk your breasts produce and if it is sufficient for your baby.

In the first few months of my baby’s life, I remember discussing this over coffee with one of my NCT friends just to gauge if what I was producing was ‘normal’.  My life revolved around breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months after becoming a mum and I had so many questions.

After feeding my baby in the morning, I would express.  I wanted to make sure that I was building up my supply by removing milk, and I wanted to make sure that he was getting at least a descent feed for his night feed.  So if I could get 90ml of milk expressed in the morning, then that was something.  For me, this would take up to 45 minutes using a combination of an electric breast pump (Medela) and hand expressing.  It was hard work.  My friend told me she could get that amount in 10-20 minutes! Damn, I guess everyone is different. 

I was so focused (worried) on producing more milk, that I’d express also in the afternoon and sometimes even in the middle of the night.

So here are a few facts that might answer some of your questions around milk production:

  • Different breasts and different sides for the same woman can have different milk storage capacities and this has nothing to do with breast size.  This means that if your breast storage capacity is smaller compared to another mum, you will have to nurse more often to satisfy your baby’s appetite.
  • Milk volume in breasts is higher in the morning but the fat content in breast milk is higher later in the day.
  • Babies are much better at removing milk than you can achieve by pumping.
  • As long as your baby is putting on weight (average is 30g per day in the first couple of months) and producing around 6 wet nappies and 2 dirty nappies in 24 hours, then he/she is probably getting enough milk.  I didn’t know if my baby’s wet nappies were wet enough and I was told that a wet nappy weighs the same as a clean nappy with 45ml of water on it.  So you can use a scale to see if your baby is producing sufficiently wet nappies.
  • If you believe that you’re feeding frequently, there are no latch issues, the baby does not have tongue-tie and you’re still concerned about your milk supply, medical conditions such as insufficient glandular breast tissue, thyroidism, poly cystic ovarian syndrome may need to be considered with your doctor to see if they’re contributing to a low milk supply.


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