Breastfeeding: How long does it take for milk to replenish?

My daughter is almost six months old and is starting to sleep through the night. Previously, if she happened to sleep all night, I would wake up very uncomfortably full. Now, I've noticed that my breasts don't seem as full in the morning. Also, the amount of milk I get when pumping has decreased at night and I don;t seem to need to pump as much during the day. I'm worried I'm going to dry up! And how is the milk actually produced?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Hurray! Your tot is sleeping through the night--and your supple has simply adjusted. Here's how the milk thing works: the more you nurse, the more milk you make. Milk is made as your daughter nurses, ejecting sometimes several times over the course of a feed. Some milk is stored in the ducts. If too much milk is left "unused" in the breasts, it will signal your breasts to produce less milk.

Are you pumping in the middle of the night so you will have your milk to leave for her when separated? You might want to do it following feeds, if that is the case, so you can get some sleep too. Don't pump right before breastfeeding.

If your daughter is healthy, gaining weight well (between 6 and 12 months, average weight gain slows from 4 to 8 ounces per week to between 3 and 5 ounces per week), and has good output (5 to 6 wet diapers and regular, substantial bowel movements) you can be certain she is getting enough milk.

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