How much milk will I make?
Milk production varies a lot. It may depend on the age and growth of the baby, the breasts’ ability to make milk, and how effectively babies breastfeed or mothers express. Mothers are more likely to have a normal milk supply if the breasts are properly stimulated, and milk is removed by effective breastfeeding or by regular, effective expression. Babies will show a number of signs if they are getting enough milk from the breast. While there are a number of possible causes for having a low milk supply, the family history and breast size don’t generally affect how much milk mothers make.
The amount of milk the breasts make varies a lot and depends mostly on the amount of milk removed by the baby (Daly 1995a; Daly 1995b) or by expressing and if the milk supply was established well after the baby’s birth. Milk supply can be affected by:
- How fast the baby is growing.
- The age of the baby.
- The size of the baby.
- How many babies are breastfeeding.
- How much solid food the baby takes in.
- If mothers are expressing in addition to breastfeeding.
A milk supply can be low and unable to meet the baby's needs.
In general, mothers are more likely to have a normal milk supply if:
The amount of milk a mother makes is generally not determined by family history or breast size.
Having a breastfed baby who grows well is the best proof of having a normal milk supply.
Expression is not always effective and can lead to mothers underestimating the amount of milk they make.
If a mother's milk supply is low or the baby is not growing well, there are a number of tools to assess milk supply.
Daly SE, Hartmann PE (Daly 1995a). Infant demand and milk supply. Part 1: Infant demand and milk production in lactating women. J Hum Lact. 1995 Mar;11(1):21-6
Daly SE, Hartmann PE (Daly 1995b). Infant demand and milk supply. Part 2: The short-term control of milk synthesis in lactating women. J Hum Lact. 1995 Mar;11(1):27-37