Breast milk amounts

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.  

A) Reasons for mothers making different amounts of breast milk

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.

B) Optimizing milk production

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.

C) Assessing milk production

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

References

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