How Quickly Does My Body Make Breast Milk?

Updated on November 05, 2006
N.N. asks from Rockwall, TX
5 answers

This might be a silly question - but I have no idea. How long does it take my body to replenish breast milk after my baby nurses? Sometimes I have to pump during the night if I start to get engorged and my baby has not awakened to feed. Then - just my luck - right after I pump - the little devil wakes up and wants to nurse. How long does it take my body to replenish the milk? An hour, two?

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answers from Dallas on

Hi N.,
My son had a growth spurt right about 9 wks where he was nursing ALL day long. During this time I learned that my body produced milk every 20 minutes or so. I'd feed him and when my breasts seemed empty, he was still hungry so if I waited 20 minutes, I could feed him again and experience another "let down". I remember feeling like I wasn't making enough milk for my baby but it was just a little growth spurt and he got over it 2 days later.



answers from Dallas on

Don't worry about not having enough to feed the baby when you've just pumped - your body will continually make milk, even while your son is nursing.

And you can pump just to comfort if he's sleeping longer. If you pump too much, you'll be telling your body to make MORE milk during the night, instead of less.

Congratulations on your baby!



answers from Dallas on

I think it just depends on stimulation. It may take a while, but he could likely get a decent feeding right after you pump, but he'll probably need to eat again in an hour or two. Your body will adjust to the baby's feeding patterns in 2 or 3 days (well, this was my experience at least). I'd just quit pumping at night, or express enough to relive the pressure/pain (He won't be able to latch on well if it's rock hard anyway) then wait til he wakes up and feed him. If you want to stockpile milk in your freezer, you could pump after he gets his fill. Pretty soon your body will adjust to let down milk at whatever time he's waking up in the morning, rather than in the middle of the night.



answers from Dallas on

Hi N.,
L. the lactation consultant here.
Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Sounds like breastfeeding is going well.
To answer your question, the amount of time it takes to replace a specific volume of milk varies from mother to mother and from feeding to feeding. The breasts constantly produce milk. As milk is removed, more milk is produced - sometimes even on the spot. The speed of production actually increases, depending on how empty the breast is. That's why, especially in the early weeks of breastfeeding, frequent feedings help increase milk supply. Research has shown that babies do not take all the milk available from the breast - the amount that baby drinks depends upon his appetite. The amount of milk removed from the breast varies, but averages around 75-80% of the available milk.

If you're getting too full at night, it's most likely because baby's sleeping longer between night-time feedings, and your breasts are storing milk in preparation for baby's next feeding. Rather than pumping, you might consider just scooping up your sleeping son, nurse him - trust me, a sleeping baby WILL nurse, and your supply issues should resolve.
Happy Mothering!


answers from Dallas on

It depends. It's all supply and demand (like Linda said). You might try holding off pumping (use ice if necessary) or manually expressing just enough to make you less uncmfortable (like .5 oz each side) if he isn't waking. That will tell your body to slow down production. Your body will readjust if needed.

Next question: Does Pumping Breastmilk Take Away from My Baby's Next Feeding?