In a perfect world, every mother breastfeeds her baby. But this is definitely not a perfect world, and there are so many reasons why we might need to compromise. Therefore this article is directed towards mothers who are expressing breast milk, not for the mothers who are breastfeeding their babies directly at the breast.
You can never determine the amount of breast milk produced, by pumping, because your baby removes milk much more efficiently from your breasts that what a breast pump can. If your baby is gaining weight well and is happy, you don't need to worry about the exact amount of milk you are producing.
How Much Expressed Breast Milk will your Baby Need?
Just like adults, each baby has different needs. It’s as easy as letting your baby lead the way. If you know your baby’s hunger cues it’s much easier.
Many studies have shown that a baby’s milk intake does not change much between the age of 1 to 6 months. Your body is so phenomenal, that it actually changes the composition and quantity (amount of calories) of your breast milk according to your baby’s needs. The bigger your baby gets, the more calories he/she will need, but don't worry, your body will take care of that.
Volume of Expressed Breast Milk
The following table is only a guide. Never force your baby to finish a bottle. Let them take the lead.
* Each baby is different and it’s recommended that you feed on demand, instead of following a rigid schedule.
Boy vs. Girl: In general boys needs more calories than girls. The reason for this can be because boys grow faster than girls. On average boys will drink about 30 to 60ml more than girls.
Growth spurts: When babies go through growth spurts, they tend to drink more to support the extra growth. Growth spurts most commonly occur at: 7 - 14 days, 2 months, 4 months and 6 months. Read more about growth spurts here.
Starting solids: When your baby start solids, he/she may start drinking a little less than usual. Keep in mind that most of a baby’s nutrients in the first year should be from your breast milk. Read more about starting solids here.
Reverse cycling (switching day and night): If your baby switches day and night feedings, he/she will drink more during the night and less during the day. Read more about reverse cycling here.
Formula & breast milk: Your breast milk composition changes to meet your baby’s needs, where as with formula milk you have to follow the required amounts to make sure that your baby gets enough. Read more about combination feeding here.
Factors that can Affect How much Milk you Express
The amount of milk removed from your breasts. The more you remove, the more milk you will produce.
If you give formula with breastmilk, your body will naturally assume that your baby needs less milk.
Time between your last breastfeeding or pumping session. Less time between sessions, less milk.
Time of the day. Your milk supply is different at different times of the day, for example, more in the mornings.
Your emotional state. Negative feelings such as stress, releases adrenaline into your blood, which might slow down milk flow.
Your pump quality and fit. The better the pump, the better the suction. Also ensure that your pump flange sits comfortably.