the science of frequent feedings

Updated: Jul 14

Your baby was designed to feed very frequently in the beginning weeks and so are your breasts. Breasts were designed to be drained frequently to stimulate the production of milk. Baby's have tiny tummies that are designed to digest breast milk quickly requiring more frequent feedings. Your milk supply is in direct proportion with the size of baby's tummy.


Research suggests that frequent feedings/pumping within the first three months can maximize your milk potential until your baby is ready to wean. And mother's who have restrictive feedings or maybe count the number of feeds tend to have adequate milk supply during the first few months but often wean earlier than expected due to low milk supply.


This is when moms say they have the most complications and end their breastfeeding journey earlier than they would like to.


Ok, get ready to geek out...


In the first few months when mothers/persons breast/chest feed frequently they keep their prolactin levels up high. Because of these frequent feedings milk glands become more active, stronger and mature increasing the number of receptor sites along the glands which then takes in more prolactin to produce milk. After the first three months are over and prolactin levels decrease, those same glands can keep up the milk supply due to the increase in size and efficiency from frequent feedings.


So, honey picture this.


I'm holding up ten fingers and each time I nurse or pump I fill up the spaces in between my fingers with bubbles until it reaches the tips of my fingers and continues until I have filled all the spaces between the web of each finger.





If there are infrequent feds coupled by timed feeds and longer sleep periods through the night in the early stages of breastfeeding to increase the number of receptor sites, the breast becomes less efficient at making milk as time progresses resulting in weaning for some mothers.


This is what I stress to mothers that join my breastfeeding classes to initiate breastfeeding or pumping within the first hour of birth provided that there are no medical issues with you or baby. Breastfeeding initiation can increase your milk volume within the first six weeks and frequent feedings/pumping during the first three months will continue to produce an adequate milk supply during your breastfeeding journey.


Mothers who frequently nurse/pump for their babies and drain their breasts properly will have a higher fat content in their breast milk which will results in a healthy weight gain for your infant. The longer a mother goes without nursing or pumping for her baby the lower the fat content of their milk.


Reference: Sears, Martha and Sears, William, The Breastfeeding Book, Little and Brown, 2000


This page is not intended to replace the advice of a medical provider.

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