If you are a new mom, you might be wondering what are the signs of an established milk supply. In the early months after your baby is born, you might be wondering if you are producing enough milk.
You might also be wondering if you can still increase your milk supply after it has been regulated, and the good news is that it is definitely possible.
Below is more information on:
- The Signs of an Established Milk Supply
- What Does it Mean to Have an Established Milk Supply
- How Long Does It Take To Establish Your Milk Supply
- Can Your Milk Supply Be Increased After It Has Regulated
- How Often Should You Pump To Establish Milk Supply
Here is a list of a few of the signs you should look for if you are trying to determine if your milk supply has been established.
Here are the 8 signs of an established milk supply
- Less leaking in between feeding sessions
- Less engorgement unless you skip a feeding or pumping session
- May collect less milk (or no milk) in a haakaa on the opposite side during feedings
- Fewer clogs experienced unless you skip a feeding or pumping session
- You notice that your breasts are softer and may feel less “full”
- You are between 6 and 12 weeks postpartum
- Pump at least 500 ml (17 oz) in 24 hours by the end of the first week (if you are exclusively pumping)
- Pump at least 750 ml (25 oz) in 24 hours by the end of the 2nd week (if you are exclusively pumping)
Signs of An Established Milk Supply
After your milk supply has been established or regulated, you will notice a few changes in your body.
You may notice less leaking in between feeding sessions because your body becomes more accustomed to producing milk on a schedule. You may no longer need to wear nursing pads if you were using them during the first few months postpartum.
You might also notice that you no longer collect milk (or you collect less milk) in a haakaa while feeding on the opposite side.
I found that the haakaa or another milk catcher like the haakaa ladybugs or elvie catch collected milk more easily before my milk supply was regulated.
You also may experience less engorgement and fewer clogs, unless you skip a feeding or pumping session.
Many moms also notice that their breasts are softer and feel less full until right before the next feeding or pumping session. This is because your body has started to anticipate when milk will be needed and is gearing up for the next feeding or pumping session.
Most moms notice that their milk supply has been established around six to 12 weeks postpartum, and this is where they are producing a consistent volume of milk.
What Does Established Milk Supply Mean?
An established milk supply, or a regulated milk supply, means that your supply is being driven based on supply and demand instead of by hormones. It also means that you are producing about 24 to 30 ounces of milk in a 24 hour time frame (after two weeks postpartum).
Everyone’s bodies are different, and it is definitely possible to increase your milk supply if you are not quite producing this much milk.
If you are exclusively pumping and your milk supply is established, you might be able to drop a pumping session and still produce the same amount of milk. This will depend on your individual breast milk storage capacity.
With my second baby, I started off producing less than the “normal” amount of 17 oz per 24 hours in the first week.
After I realized she wasn’t transferring milk effectively, I was able to build up to a full supply. I was even able to produce an extra 4-6 oz per 24 hours more than what she was eating and build up a freezer stash.
Around the six week mark with my second baby, I was able to move from pumping 8 times per day down to pump 6 to 7 times per day and still maintain my milk supply until I decided to wean.
To protect your milk supply, you may not want to drop pumping sessions until you are past at least six weeks postpartum.
How Long Does Milk Supply Take To Establish Or Regulate?
Milk supply is established or regulated anywhere from between 4 weeks and 12 weeks postpartum. Typically it is around 6 weeks postpartum, but for some moms it can be later.
Most moms are able to quickly build up their milk supply during the first two weeks postpartum.
Initially your milk supply is boosted by hormones after you give birth.
After three to four days postpartum, your milk supply starts to be driven more by “demand” or the amount of milk that is removed.
It increases steadily until you are producing around 17 ounces (or 500ml) in 24 hours by the end of the first week.
By the end of the second week, most moms are able to produce 25 ounces (750ml) per 24 hour period.
Your milk supply typically levels out around this point and stays at a consistent level of 24 to 30 ounces per 24 hour period.
Then, your milk supply is fully established around 6 to 12 weeks postpartum.
It stays about this 24 to 30 ounce level until you are around six months postpartum and the baby starts to eat more solid foods.
I found that I had to supplement my second baby with formula for about the first week or two. After that point I was able to meet her demands with only breastmilk.
Most of the moms I checked with in facebook groups and on reddit noticed that their milk supply was established around the 2 week mark postpartum as well.
Can You Increase Milk Supply After It Has Regulated
The good news is that yes, you can increase milk supply after it has been regulated or established. Some ways to do this are to pump more frequently, like with power pumping.
It is definitely easiest to increase milk supply during the first few weeks postpartum.
However because your milk supply is based on demand, you can pump more frequently or more often in order to increase it after your supply has been established in the first few weeks postpartum.
A few things that you can try to increase milk supply after regulation are:
- Power pumping
- Pumping more frequently
- Increasing hydration with drinks like body armor
- Eating lactation cookies (or even oreos might work)
- Lactation supplements
My favorite drink to increase milk supply is this breastfeeding-friendly protein shake here. You have to try the chocolate fudge flavor!
How Often Should I Pump To Establish Milk Supply
If you are working to establish milk supply by exclusively pumping, it is best to pump between 8 and 12 times per 24 hours in the first few weeks postpartum.
The more often you pump, the more you will stimulate your body to produce more milk.
I was able to establish my milk supply by exclusively pumping for my two babies, so I know from first hand experience it is definitely possible.
The first baby was in the NICU and unable to latch, and then she had a severe tongue tie, so I ended up exclusively pumping for her first year.
My second also had a tongue tie which prevented her from being able to transfer milk effectively. I pumped to build up my supply until we were able to get her tongue tie corrected.
Must-Have Pumping Gear
Hear are a few of my favorite pumping items that made my life so much easier.
- This is the best pumping bra that is actually comfortable to wear all day long (the Sublime version). Use code LISA20 to save 20% off your purchase!
- Try the Chocolate Fudge flavor of this yummy milk-boosting protein powder.
- Click here for the best deal on the WillowGo pump! Use code willowgo-PM (pumping mamas) to save for a limited time!
- These are the best baby bottle labels that will not wash off or wear off. The pineapple design and the whale design are two of my favorites.
- My favorite pumping bag that is roomy enough for my pump, a laptop, a cooler, and a lunch bag. They have so many cute colors and prints but I really love the Floral print. Use code LISA15 to save 15% for a limited time.
- These custom baby name onesies I found on Etsy are so adorable I ended up buying them in two different colors. The shop even has a really cute matching mommy and me set.
- I used this tiny mini fridge (link to Amazon) near my pumping station at home so I didn’t have to trek to the kitchen after a middle of the night pumping session.
- This postpartum care box has a couple of my must-have items for the first few months after baby arrives. The tubes that help with engorgement provide so much relief.
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