How much breast milk should I pump?

How much is enough? Normally it is the baby that decides how much milk he wants during a feed. But when you are expressing your milk, there is no way to know for sure how many bottles you will have to express before leaving for work.

Research indicates that babies in the age group of 1 month to 6 six months require about 750 ML of breast milk per day. There is no clinical precision involved in this research and your baby might actually drink more or less breast milk depending on its appetite and the amount of activity it indulges in. It would be however safer to express anywhere between 500 – 900 ml of breast milk per day. In other words, this would be 8 – 9 bottles per day. It would be best to store expressed milk in small amounts (150 ml – 200 ml) in each bottle. That way if your baby is able to finish one bottle, you can give him the next one. Sometimes if your baby is not able to finish large amounts of milk in one feed, you will have to pour the rest of the milk down the sink since you cannot refreeze it.

Wean the baby slowly and put him on bottle feed with your expressed milk at least a month before you leave for work. Start expressing your milk from morning onwards and store the bottles in the refrigerator. Note and observe how many bottles are being used every day. This would give you an idea as to how much milk you will have to express everyday before you leave for work.

Many women are often concerned about the amount of breast milk that they express. You might feel that you have very little milk especially when you are measuring it but it does not always mean that you are having insufficient milk. It totally depends on the factors such as, how long you have been nursing the baby, the type of pump you are using and your comfort levels in using it. Initially you might feel that you are expressing very little milk, but then as you grow more comfortable with the device and the entire process, you will find that you do have enough milk to nurse your baby.

As your baby grows, you will start him on solids and semi solids and his breast milk intake will also reduce, depending on how much solid food he is taking. Studies indicate that babies between 6 months to 1 year will consume about 400 – 500 ml of breast milk. Some babies might still prefer breast milk and might still demand the same amount of breast milk even after taking solid food. In such cases, give him a taste of different solid foods. Boiled vegetables, mashed potatoes, bananas, fruits etc. to see which one he prefers. Finger feed him his favorite food whenever he wants to have a feed at the breast milk.

If you are still finding it a challenge to express the number of bottles that he demands, then it is best to consult the doctor and start him on the formula milk.


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