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How Much Breast Milk Should I Pump?

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Updated June 24, 2014

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Question: How Much Breast Milk Should I Pump?
Premature babies may be born too small to breastfeed, so moms must pump breast milk in order to establish a milk supply. Although preemies take only very small feedings, it's important to pump often and well so that, as baby gets bigger, mom's milk supply can keep up.
Answer:

Pumping Breast Milk in the Early Days

If you're pumping breast milk for a premature baby, or if you plan to feed your newborn pumped breast milk only, then you may wonder how much breast milk you should pump.

In the first day or two after birth, you may only pump a teaspoon or two of milk at a time. This early breast milk is called colostrum. Although moms only make a small amount of colostrum, it is packed with immunities and nutrients.

Within 3 to 4 days after the birth of your baby, you should start to see your milk supply gradually increase.

How Much Breast Milk Should You Pump?

By about 10 days after your baby was born, your milk supply should be fully in. If you've been pumping often and well, you should be pumping far more breast milk than a premature baby needs.

Read More: How Often Should I Pump?

If you are pumping 8 to 10 times per day, you should be producing:

  • Optimal: About 25 ounces of breast milk per day, or 3 to 4 ounces per pumping session.
  • Borderline: If you're pumping less than 25 ounces of breast milk per day, you may need to use interventions to increase your milk supply. Between 11.5 and 25 ounces daily is considered borderline milk production.
  • Low: If you're producing less than 11.5 ounces per day, talk to a lactation consultant to see how you can increase your milk supply.

Sources:

Hurst, N. "The 3 M's of Breast-feeding the Preterm Infant." J Perinat Neonat Nurs July-Sept 2007. 21; 234-239.

Mohrbacher, N and Stock, J. The Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Revised Edition. January, 2003; La Leche League International, Schaumburg, IL.

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