Breastfeeding FAQs: Supply and Demand (for Parents) (2023)

Breastfeeding is a natural thing to do, but it still comes with its fair share of questions. Here's what you need to know about your milk supply.

Breastfeeding FAQs: Supply and Demand (for Parents) (1)

How Do I Know if I’m Making Enough Milk for My Baby?

Your baby's diapers can help you tell if your little one is getting enough to eat. The more your baby nurses, the more dirty diapers you'll see.


Because colostrum is concentrated, your baby may have only one or two wet diapers in the first 24 hours of life. After 3–4 days, look for:

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  • 6 or more wet diapers per day, with clear or very pale pee. Fewer wet diapers or darker pee may mean your baby's not getting enough to drink. If you see orange crystals in a wet diaper, call your baby's doctor. They're common in healthy, well-fed babies and usually not a cause for concern. But sometimes they're a sign that a baby isn't getting enough fluids.


A newborn's poop is thick and tarry at first, then more greenish-yellow as mom's milk comes in. After 3–4 days, look for:

  • 4 or more yellow, seedy poops per day, usually one after each feeding. After about a month, babies poop less often, and many may go a few days without pooping.

Your baby probably is getting enough milk if your little one:

  • feeds 8–12 times a day
  • seems satisfied and content after eating
  • sleeps well
  • is alert when awake
  • is gaining weight

If you're worried that you baby isn't getting enough to eat, call your doctor.

How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?

Your milk supply depends on how often you nurse or pump your breasts. The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk your body makes. So, if you seem to be producing less milk than usual, nurse your baby more often. You also can pump after nursing to help stimulate more milk production.

Some things, like stress, illness, and some medicines, can temporarily lower your supply. But drinking plenty of water and eating nutritious foods can help. Also try to take some time for yourself each day, even if it's only for 15–30 minutes.

If your baby is younger than 6 months old and you're away from each other for long stretches during the day, pump or hand express every 3 hours to maintain your supply.

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If your milk supply still seems low and you're concerned, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant.

If I Wait to Nurse, Will My Milk Supply Increase?

Actually, no — it's the opposite. Waiting too long to nurse or pump can slowly reduce your milk supply. The more you delay nursing or pumping, the less milk your body will make. That’s because overfilled (engorged) breasts send a signal to your brain that you need to make less milk.

I'm Producing Too Much Milk. What Can I Do?

Some women may feel like they don't have enough milk, while others may feel like they make too much. Some mothers' bodies just make more milk than their babies need. Others overstimulate their breasts by pumping or expressing milk between feedings.

If you feel like you have too much milk, here are some ideas:

  • Alternate the breast that you start each feeding with. Let your baby stay at the first breast until either the breast is very soft or your baby is full. If your baby is not satisfied with the first breast, offer the second breast.
  • Try nursing on only one breast at each feeding, if possible. Over time, you may notice your milk supply and "let-down reflex" (the milk ejection reflex) get easier to handle.
  • If expressing or pumping to relieve discomfort, remove just enough to feel comfortable but don't empty the breast completely.

If you’ve tried these things and you still have problems with too much milk, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant.

My Baby Nurses on Just One Breast. Will This Hurt My Supply?

Some babies will be satisfied after nursing from only one breast. Others might prefer one breast over the other. If your baby has only fed from one breast and you are comfortable at the end of a feeding, you don’t need to pump. But if either breast is still full and uncomfortable, pump or hand express to comfort.

(Video) Your Breastfeeding Questions Answered - Breastmilk Supply

To keep up your milk supply in both breasts (and to prevent painful engorgement), it’s best to alternate breasts, whether in the same feeding session or between different sessions. Remember to keep your baby on the first breast until it's soft, and then move your baby to the second breast. This ensures that your little one gets the hindmilk, which is creamier and has more calories than the foremilk, which comes at the beginning of a feeding.

My Baby Is Sleeping Longer At Night. Will This Hurt My Supply?

When babies reach their birth weight and can sleep for longer stretches at night, the time between nighttime feedings gradually lengthens.

Letting your baby sleep for longer periods during the night won't hurt your breastfeeding efforts. Your growing baby can take in more milk during the day — and that, in turn, means longer stretches of sleep at night. Your milk supply will adjust to the new routine.

If you wake during the night with full breasts and a sleeping baby, consider expressing or pumping for comfort to help your body adjust to the new schedule.

If you follow your baby's cues and spread out the feedings, your milk supply should keep up with your baby’s needs.



How do you supply and demand for breastfeeding? ›

If you keep reducing the number of feeds then your body keeps reducing the milk supply it makes available in the breasts. This is supply and demand too; reduced demand for the milk leads to less milk supply.

What are some questions to ask about breastfeeding? ›

How Lactation Works
  • Why is breastfeeding good for my baby? ...
  • Is breastfeeding good for me? ...
  • How often should I feed my baby? ...
  • How do I put my baby to the breast? ...
  • How can I avoid sore nipples? ...
  • How long does a feed last? ...
  • How does my baby “tell” me they're hungry? ...
  • How can I increase my milk supply?

What step in the Steps to Successful breastfeeding encourage breastfeeding on demand? ›

Practice rooming-in - allow mothers and infants to remain together - 24 hours a day. Encourage breastfeeding on demand. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.

Why is demand feeding important for successful breastfeeding? ›

Evolutionary, cross-cultural, and clinical research suggests that babies were designed to feed on cue. And breastfeeding on demand comes with important benefits: It's the ideal way to keep milk production in sync with a baby's needs. It helps ensure that babies, especially newborns, get enough milk.

How long can I breastfeed on demand for? ›

6 to 12 Months

This is sometimes called breastfeeding on demand. If your baby seems less interested in breastfeeding after you introduce solid foods, try breastfeeding before you offer other foods. Your breast milk is the most important source of nutrition, even after you start feeding your baby solid foods.

When does supply and demand start breastfeeding? ›

So when is milk supply established? When does milk supply regulate? In the vast majority of cases, this happens sometime in the first 12 weeks, usually between 6-12 weeks postpartum.

What is a common problem faced by most mothers when breastfeeding? ›

Breast engorgement is when your breasts get too full of milk. They may feel hard, tight and painful. Engorgement can happen in the early days when you and your baby are still getting used to breastfeeding. It can take a few days for your milk supply to match your baby's needs.

What are 3 problems that can occur to breastfeeding? ›

Low supply, sore nipples, engorgement — breastfeeding may be natural, but it isn't always easy. Here's a look at the most common breastfeeding problems and how to cope.

What is the key to successful breastfeeding? ›

The key to successful breastfeeding is the way you position and latch your baby onto the breast. You should hold the baby “tummy to tummy” so that there is no space between your body and your baby. The baby needs to be facing the breast. Please make sure not to press on the back of the baby's head.

What is the most effective way to increase milk supply? ›

Increasing Your Milk Supply
  1. Breastfeed every time your baby is hungry. ...
  2. Make sure your baby is latching well.
  3. Offer both breasts at each feeding. ...
  4. Empty your breasts at each feeding. ...
  5. Avoid bottles and pacifiers in the early weeks. ...
  6. Get plenty of sleep, and eat a healthy diet.
  7. Pump or express your milk. ...
  8. Relax and massage.

What stimulates breastmilk production? ›

Once your baby and placenta are delivered, a sudden drop in your estrogen and progesterone causes the hormone prolactin to take over. Prolactin is the hormone that produces milk. You'll notice your milk production increases dramatically at this stage. It's often referred to as milk “coming in.”

Does feeding on demand increase supply? ›

How Can I Increase My Milk Supply? Your milk supply depends on how often you nurse or pump your breasts. The more you breastfeed or pump, the more milk your body makes. So, if you seem to be producing less milk than usual, nurse your baby more often.

What are the pros on demand feeding? ›

Pros of feeding on demand

You're in tune with your baby's needs. If she's experiencing a growth spurt and needs to feed more frequently, there's no problem. Her individual needs are catered for. Babies feed at different rates and vary in the quantity of milk they take in during a feed.

Is it better to breastfeed on demand or schedule? ›

In the first few weeks of life, breastfeeding should be "on demand" (when your baby is hungry), which is about every 1-1/2 to 3 hours. As newborns get older, they'll nurse less often, and may have a more predictable schedule. Some might feed every 90 minutes, whereas others might go 2–3 hours between feedings.

Do I need to pump if Im breastfeeding on demand? ›

In most cases when breastfeeding is going well you will not need to pump your breast milk. If you do need to express milk occasionally due to engorgement or because you need to leave some milk for your baby while you're apart; hand expression can work very well.

How often should I pump if breastfeeding on demand? ›

The majority of new mothers get the most milk early in the day. Plan to pump at least 8-10 times in a 24-hour period (if exclusively pumping) You can pump in-between, or immediately after, breastfeeding.

At what age does breastfeeding stop being beneficial? ›

It adds: "You and your baby can carry on enjoying the benefits of breastfeeding for as long as you like." The World Health Organization agrees that breastfeeding should continue "up to two years of age or beyond".

When is it too late to increase milk supply? ›

When is it Too Late to Increase Milk Supply? A mama's milk supply typically peaks between the first 4-6 weeks. After 6 weeks, it may become more difficult to increase your supply.

How long does it take breasts to refill? ›

The more milk your baby removes from your breasts, the more milk you will make. Despite views to the contrary, breasts are never truly empty. Milk is actually produced nonstop—before, during, and after feedings—so there's no need to wait between feedings for your breasts to refill.

What are two factors that may prevent a mother from breastfeeding? ›

The most common reasons cited were inconvenience or fatigue associated with breastfeeding (22.6%) and concerns about milk supply (21.6%).

What are the common reasons for failure in lactation? ›

The most common cause of lactation failure is insufficient milk or no milk (80%). The age, parity, education, socioeconomic status, religion, family structure, and urban versus rural status of mother all had a bearing on the occurrence of lactation failure (12).

What are 3 reasons that mothers don't breastfeed or continue to breastfeed their babies? ›

Why Do Mothers Stop Breastfeeding Early?
  • Issues with lactation and latching. ...
  • Concerns about infant nutrition and weight. ...
  • Mother's concern about taking medications while breastfeeding. ...
  • Unsupportive work policies and lack of parental leave. ...
  • Cultural norms and lack of family support.
Aug 3, 2022

What are the five steps to successful breastfeeding? ›

§Model policy elements are 1) in-service training, 2) prenatal breastfeeding classes, 3) asking about mothers' feeding plans, 4) initiating breastfeeding within one hour of uncomplicated vaginal birth, 5) initiating breastfeeding after recovery for uncomplicated c-sections and/or showing mothers how to express milk and ...

What barriers do mothers have to overcome in order to be successful in breastfeeding? ›

Lactation Problems

Frequently cited problems with breastfeeding include sore nipples, engorged breasts, mastitis, leaking milk, pain, and failure to latch on by the infant. Women who encounter these problems early on are less likely to continue to breastfeed unless they get professional assistance.

What is the 10 importance of breastfeeding? ›

Breast milk helps keep your baby healthy.

It protects against allergies, sickness, and obesity. It protects against diseases, like diabetes and cancer. It protects against infections, like ear infections. It is easily digested – no constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach.

What are 5 factors that affect breast milk production? ›

What are the factors that affect lactation?
  • Childbirth complications (hemorrhage, cesarean, long delivery);
  • Part of the placenta remaining in the uterus;
  • Hormonal imbalance (thyroid gland, polycystic ovary syndrome, type 1 or type 2 diabetes);
  • Obesity;
  • Drugs (pitocin, fentanyl);
  • Stress / Anxiety;
Mar 28, 2013

What are the 5 factors that affects the milk secretion of a nursing mother? ›

  • Stress / Anxiety (may decrease production and milk ejection reflex);
  • Separation of mother and child (eg, return to work, school);
  • Hormonal imbalance (thyroid gland, polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes type 1 or 2);
  • New pregnancy;
  • Insufficient breast tissue (tube-shaped breasts);
Mar 28, 2013

What causes breast milk supply? ›

Infant suckling stimulates the nerve endings in the nipple and areola, which signal the pituitary gland in the brain to release two hormones, prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin causes your alveoli to take nutrients (proteins, sugars) from your blood supply and turn them into breast milk.

How can I improve my breastfeeding efficiency? ›

be prepared to feed your baby more frequently — breastfeed on demand every 2-3 hours at least 8 times in 24 hours. switch your baby from one breast to the other; offer each breast twice. ensure your breasts are emptied well at each feed or pumping session; you can express after breastfeeds to make sure.

How can I double my milk supply fast? ›

You can increase your milk supply by:
  1. Nursing your baby often. ...
  2. Nurse your baby at least 15 minutes at each breast. ...
  3. Gently massage breast before and during feedings.
  4. Use relaxation techniques to reduce stress and promote the flow of breast milk.
  5. Provide skin to skin time with your baby for about 20 minutes after feeds.

Why is my breast full but no milk when pumping? ›

If your breasts feel like they're full but you're not able to get the milk flowing out when you pump, it could be that you're not achieving let down. The let down reflex releases your milk from the milk ducts. This only occurs when you're either breastfeeding or pumping.

How can I increase my milk supply overnight? ›

Take care of yourself by getting some extra sleep, drinking more water and even lactation tea, and enjoying skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Over time, these small steps can lead to a significant increase in breast milk production.

Does comfort feeding increase supply? ›

For babies in their first months of life, comfort nursing can help provide extra nutrients needed for massive growth spurts and trigger greater milk production while bonding parents with their babies.

Is it normal to only pump 3 oz? ›

The normal amount is anywhere between . 5 to 2 ounces (for both breasts) per pumping session. And it's not unusual to need to pump 2-3 times to get enough milk out for one feeding for baby. Please don't assume that not pumping a lot is any indication that your milk supply is low.

How long can I go without pumping at night? ›

Avoid going longer than 5-6 hours without pumping during the first few months. When pumping during the night, milk yield tends to be better if you pump when you naturally wake (to go to the bathroom or because your breasts are uncomfortably full) than if you set an alarm to wake for pumping.

How do you demand a supply? ›

Supply and demand are equated in a free market through the price mechanism. If buyers wish to purchase more of a good than is available at the prevailing price, they will tend to bid the price up. If they wish to purchase less than is available at the prevailing price, suppliers will bid prices down.


1. How to Increase Milk Supply. Tips for Breastfeeding mothers.
(Diana In The Pink)
2. Breastfeeding Myths vs Facts
(Optimal Care Pediatrics)
3. Why Choose Breastfeeding
(Northwell Health)
4. Is it okay to breastfeed my newborn and give them formula at the same time?
5. Things that Can Decrease Breast Milk Supply
(FirstCry Parenting)
6. Oversupply of milk and overactive let down. Gassy baby, baby choking on milk? How to manage.
(Kassi Reyes)
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