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How much you need to express

The amount of breast milk you need to express, and how often you express, will depend on the situation.

For example, you may need to express more for your newborn baby if they are unable to breastfeed. The amount you express for an older baby will depend on the number of times they breastfeed each day.

These amounts are only a guide. If your baby is born sick or premature, you may not reach this volume. Any amount that you can express for your baby is helpful. Your midwife or public health nurse can help you

Newborn babies

If you need to express milk for your baby in the early days after birth, here's a guideline on what to expect:

DayMilk expressed in 24 hoursHow much your baby will get at a feed
Day 17 ml to 123 mlfrom a few drops to 5 ml (5 ml is approximately 1 teaspoon)
Day 244 ml to 335 mlfrom 5 ml to 15 ml
Day 398 ml to 775 mlfrom 15 ml to 30 ml

With time and practice, it will become easier and the amount of milk you express will increase.

Expressing for time away from baby

In exclusively breastfed babies (babies who are fed breast milk only), milk intake increases quickly during the first few weeks of life. After that, it stays about the same between 1 and 6 months (although it generally increases short-term during growth spurts).

How much milk a baby consumes changes as they get older and (until one month or so) by weight.

During the first week, most full-term babies take no more than 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 ml) at feedings. This is because newborns’ stomachs are so small.

After about 4 to 5 weeks, babies reach their peak feeding volume of about 3 to 4 ounces (90 to 120 ml) and peak daily milk intake of about 30 ounces per day (900 ml).

After 6 months, your baby’s milk intake begins to decrease gradually as you introduce solid food.

Research tells us that exclusively breastfed babies take in an average of 25 oz (750 ml) per day between the ages of 1 month and 6 months. Different babies take in different amounts of milk. A typical range of milk intake is 19 oz to 30 oz (570 ml to 900 ml) per day.

Use these steps to work out the amount of breast milk your baby will need:

  1. Estimate the number of times that your baby breastfeeds per day (in 24 hours).
  2. Divide 25 oz (750 ml) by the number of breastfeeds.
  3. This gives you a rough guide for the amount of expressed milk your exclusively-breastfed baby will need at one feeding.

Example: If a baby usually breastfeeds around 8 times per day, you can guess that baby might need around 3 oz (94 ml) of expressed breast milk per feeding.

Page last reviewed: 29/11/2018
Next review due: 29/11/2021

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