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Do my breasts need time to “refill” after a feeding?

Here’s a question from Carly in Huntsville, ON:

Q: I’m expecting my first baby soon. I’ve heard that in order to increase your milk production, you should wait at least 3 hours after you empty the breasts at a feeding to feed your baby again to allow the milk to fill up again. Is this true?

A: Good question, Carly, but this isn’t actually the case. Research shows that since milk is being produced at all times, the breast is never actually empty. In fact most babies remove an average of 75-80% of milk at a feeding, so there is always milk remaining in the breast after a feeding.

The strategy of waiting a set amount of time to nurse your baby (under the mistaken belief that the breasts need time to “refill”) will be counterproductive to your goal to increase your milk supply. This is because milk production slows down when milk accumulates in the breast. So, the best strategy is to feed your baby frequently, thus emptying the breasts as much as possible, especially in the early days. Newborns will often “cluster feed” which means that for a period of a few hours a day they will feed almost continuously, and this is very helpful in increasing your milk supply.

Nancy Lahn RN
Deveoper of the Cozy Cuddles Nursing Pillow

Originally posted 2015-04-28 13:13:10.

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