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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Myth Busters: Does Frequent Nursing Mean Baby isn’t Getting Enough?

It seems like when a woman has a new baby, she is suddenly presented with an onslaught of people who want to be helpful by offering their advice! The problem is that not all of their input is very educated! It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend who is trying to be helpful, her mother or mother-in-law, or Great Aunt Sue. One of the most frequent things a new mom hears when putting her baby to breast is, “Again?! He just ate a half hour ago! Your frequent nursing must mean you don’t have enough milk.”

When pregnant moms picture caring for their infants, they often picture the baby waking up to nurse every three to four hours, and dozing off contentedly after each feeding. In reality, breastfeeding can (and usually does!) look much different.

Babies usually nurse closer to every two hours. Remember, that is from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of another! Frequently the baby will spend ninety minutes feeding. Then they will doze off for half an hour, and want to start the cycle all over again! Other times, the baby will just want to suckle at the breast for a few minutes. They’ll be back at it again within ten minutes.

“He just ate!” say the helpful people. “He’s just using you as a pacifier!”

But is it true?


Does Frequent Nursing Mean Baby isn’t Getting Enough?

Babies are such incredibly complex creatures! They are born “hardwired” with a need to suck. When a baby sucks at the breast, their body produces a hormone, cholecystokinin (also known as CCK). This hormone results in them feeling full and content, both physically and emotionally.

At the same time, the suckling produces an oxytocin surge in the mother’s body. This signals her body to make more milk. So frequent nursing is actually a great indicator that things are going well. It doesn’t mean that mom’s milk supply is insufficient!

As always, if the baby is gaining at least four to ten ounces per week and producing adequate wet and dirty diapers, then the milk supply of the mother is sufficient. And even a medical professional determines her supply is low, the very best thing for mom to increase her supply is putting baby to breast frequently. This means nursing every single time the baby wants to suck, whether they are drawing milk or not. This will result in more milk production than taking supplements, pumping, taking prescription galactogogues, or any other method to increase production.

The answer is that this is decidedly a myth. It is nearly impossible to put a baby to breast too often, and frequent nursing is hardly an indication of supply.


Rachel Wideman lives with her husband Andrew. They have a 6-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. She is a registered nurse and enjoys knitting and reading.

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