The production of breastmilk is entirely dependent on demand and supply. This means your body will produce as much breastmilk as your baby demands and feeds. But your breastmilk can never fully be consumed as your body continuously keeps on producing it, even as your baby is nursing. Your baby drinks 75-80% of your breastmilk in a proper feed, and it takes around 30 minutes for your breastmilk to refill.
Breastfeeding is and always be a topic about which every mother stays curious from the beginning till they stop breastfeeding their child.
There is a lot of information that every mother tries to gain to understand the whole process better and do the best for their baby. One such curiosity is about how long does it take for breastmilk to refill?
There are a lot of factors that go into fully understanding and answering this curiosity. All these factors need to be considered, from hormones involved to the demand and supply of your breastmilk.
So, let’s understand these factors, and only then you’ll understand your breastmilk production and how fast they can refill.
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Where it all begins is when you get pregnant and birth your baby, your hormones stimulate the breast tissue growth facilitating that milk production. There are two critical hormones involved in producing this breastmilk:
- Prolactin – which promotes milk production
- Oxytocin – which promotes milk let-down or the flow of the milk to the baby. You might notice it as a tingly, prickly feeling in your breasts. During let-down, mothers also experience leakage from one breast.
When your baby is in your womb, the placenta produces estrogen and progesterone, which keep your breasts from going into total milk production.
Once the baby is delivered, these two hormones drop, and prolactin kicks in, signaling the breasts to make more milk over the next few days.
Breastmilk supply and demand
Once your baby is out in the world, your hormones have done their job for the initial milk production.
Then comes your baby, who is to maintain the level of breastmilk production. Your breasts milk production relies on how fast your baby empties them to refill. Basically, the demand and supply equation comes in at this point.
As long as the milk is removed, more milk will keep on producing. The more the demand for milk by your baby, the more your breasts will keep making it. So, as long as your baby meets the demand, the supply will be accordingly.
This is why later on, when your baby has grown and starts to venture out to solid foods, their demand for breastmilk reduces, which in turn then reduces the supply of your milk.
Your breasts start producing lesser and lesser amounts, finally resulting in what is called as weaning process. Then, in a few months, your breasts will completely stop producing milk at all.
As I mentioned before, the supply of your breastmilk depends on the demand for it by your baby. However, when your baby is feeding, they aren’t able to empty all the milk produced by the breasts.
Your breasts will never really be empty. Even as your baby is feeding, your breasts will keep on producing more milk.
According to researchers, your baby removes around 75-80% of the available milk at each feed. But as your body continuously produces milk, you don’t need to wait for hours for your breasts to be full again. After a feeding, you need to wait for 30 minutes or so before you are ready to feed your baby again.
But then again, it depends on a lot of factors on how your body usually produces breastmilk.
In the first few weeks after birth, your body is still adjusting to how much breastmilk it should produce. But with your prolactin levels high, it’s still the best time to make as much milk as possible.
6 tips to refill breastmilk faster
Some mothers do face issues in keeping a healthy feed going on. So, this section will deal with how you can maintain healthy breastfeeding so your baby can balance the demand and supply of your breastmilk.
1. Nursing on demand
Whenever your little one demands your milk, you should try your best to feed your baby then. With the equation of demand and supply, the more milk your baby consumes, the more breastmilk your body will be able to produce.
You can’t always feed your baby whenever they demand to do so. So, you can’t solely depend on your baby to ask for your milk.
Instead, prepare a schedule where you can pump your breastmilk if you’re directly unable to feed your little one.
This will make sure that your breastmilk remains in a good cycle of producing milk.
3. Massaging your breasts
This is something that helps a lot of breastfeeding mothers. Massaging your breasts will aid in producing more and a frequent flow of your milk.
4. Eating and drinking healthy
Remember that whatever you eat also affects your breastmilk and its production to a greater extent.
Eating healthy and a more balanced diet will help you out a lot in the long run and your breastmilk production.
Whatever nutrients you consume will be shared with your baby via your breastmilk. So make sure you eat well and stay hydrated for healthy breastmilk.
5. Good sleep
It’s vital you also get a good rest in between your busy day. Especially after giving birth, your body needs lots of good rest to heal.
In fact, taking short naps throughout the day can help you recover faster, and when your body functions well, so will the production of breastmilk stays on track. Keeping yourself awake and not taking good rest can hinder your feed.
6. Use both breasts
When you nurse, you should make use of both of your breasts. For example, if you’re feeding from your left breast, you should feed from your right one next time. This will keep a balanced production of breastmilk to both your breasts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do breasts need time to refill?
The more milk your baby draws from your breast, the more will the production of it increase. There is an apparent demand and supply equation applied here. If, for some reason, your baby stops breastfeeding, your milk production will stop gradually too.
Do soft breasts mean a low milk supply?
It could be a sign that if your breasts feel soft to touch and not firm like they’re full of milk, it could mean a low milk supply. Or maybe your body is adjusting according to the needs of your baby.
How do I know my baby is full when breastfeeding?
It is noticeable when your baby is full as they will be happy, content, and more relaxed. They might stop breastfeeding on their own. They might just start drifting off to sleep too. Or they will start having hiccups.
How quickly can a baby drain a breast?
Depends on their age, in the starting they will drink often but not for a longer time. Later on, around 3 months of age, they will have a set routine with a set frequency.
This is also when they start to gain weight. Your baby can get a complete and good feed in 10 to 15 minutes and be full.
As we have seen, there is a clear demand-supply relation between your baby and your milk production. Your baby must keep a healthy demand of your milk, which will help your body produce more milk and keep your baby growing healthy too.
Your body continuously produces milk when you have a baby who breastfeeds regularly. As a result, your breasts can never be completely empty. Although they need some time to be refilled again, you can easily feed your baby within an hour again.
Eating healthy, remaining hydrated, and with plenty of rest can also aid your milk production.