Why do some babies need to breastfeed more often than others?

Have you ever wondered why some babies feed really regularly while others go much longer between feeds?

Human milk is made and stored in the glandular tissue of the breast- in the lobes and ducts. The number of lobes and ducts between women varies MASSIVELY. Some women only have 3 while others have 20. This variation means that different breasts can store different amounts of milk (milk storage capacities). Some breasts can store a lot of milk while other breasts can only store half of that amount. Importantly, a breast with a small storage capacity still has the potential to make the same amount of milk throughout the day as a breast with a large milk capacity. The breast with the small milk capacity will just need to be emptied more often to maintain milk supply.

Think of a breast storage capacity like a tea cup. Imagine you are having a tea party and you have a small tea cup and your friend has a big mug. By the end of the tea party you’ve both drank the same amount of tea but you’ve had to refill you cup more often. The same goes with babies drinking from breasts with small milk capacities – they will just need to feed more regularly to satisfy their hunger.

-Those with a small milk capacity will need to feed/pump very often so satisfy baby and maintain their supply- ie every 1-2 hours (they might make 30-60mls per feed). The baby will likely need to drink from both breasts.

-The milk capacity of the average woman is around 60-120mls every 2-4 hours.

-Women with a large milk capacity can often go for longer periods without pumping / feeding and still maintain their supply. Your baby might take one breast at each feed or be finished with a feed quickly. These babies might sleep for longer stretches over night (lucky mamas 😉).

•Some women can even make over 180mls every 2-4 hours, particularly if they have twins or are overusing a breast pump!

-Bigger breasts don’t necessarily mean a bigger storage capacity. Bigger breasts are largely made up extra fatty tissue. However, having small breasts can limit the amount of milk that can be stored – but like i’ve said before this doesn’t matter as long as they are regularly emptied, they will still produce the same amount of milk overall.