Is it normal to get only 1 to 2 ounces of breastmilk per bottle when I pump? Breastfeeding

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Breast pump and Mom holding baby in the background.
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It can be frustrating when you spend a half hour pumping just to get a couple ounces. But it is totally normal. See what experts and moms who've been there say about pumping just a few ounces at a time.

There's a Wide Range of Normal

"Different people respond to different pumps in various ways. Also breasts can vary from person to person -- one may be able to hold 6 ounces in the breast while another may only have the storage capacity to hold 2 ounces -- so there is a wide range of normal. There are different ways to increase milk [if that's what you want to do]. If the baby nurses well, more nursing can help. If not, then a hospital-grade pump can help." -- Leigh Anne O'Connor, IBCLC, lactation consultant in private practice, New York, NY

Every Mom Is Different

"The biggest misconception is that some people judge how much milk a breastfeeding baby gets by what comes from the pump. A baby is much more efficient at getting milk out and can get a lot more milk than a pump can. Sometimes there are multiple letdowns during breastfeeding. There are some things you may be able to do to get more milk while pumping: You can massage your breasts, or keep the pump on longer and have multiple letdowns to get more out. Some women are never going to get more...

"The biggest misconception is that some people judge how much milk a breastfeeding baby gets by what comes from the pump. A baby is much more efficient at getting milk out and can get a lot more milk than a pump can. Sometimes there are multiple letdowns during breastfeeding. There are some things you may be able to do to get more milk while pumping: You can massage your breasts, or keep the pump on longer and have multiple letdowns to get more out. Some women are never going to get more than an ounce or two. Other women can get 8 ounces of breast milk and store tons and have a supply. It’s not based on breast size or anything like that; it’s just the way we are." -- Lauren Levine, MD, pediatrician at ColumbiaDoctors and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY

Supply May Stay Consistent

"I exclusively pump, and I'm pumping an ounce an hour from each breast, so about 48 ounces per day. For my body, it doesn't matter if I pump every two hours or every five hours, I still get 1 ounce for each hour from each breast since my last pump. It took me about a month to establish this kind of supply but it's been pretty consistent since then."

Keep Pumping

"I only get 1.5 to 3 ounces in total for both breasts depending on how long it's been since I last pumped. My baby is 2 weeks old, so maybe my supply will increase. Your body is always producing more milk, but it will produce as much as it thinks you need, so if you keep pumping, you should keep on producing it, but if you stop pumping as much, your body will think it doesn't need to produce as much and will reduce the supply."

Herbs May Not Help

"I get 1 to 1.5 ounces total from both breasts. Even with pumping every three hours in the beginning, I was never able to establish a good supply. Now I pump five times during the day and none overnight. My baby is almost 4 months old. I have tried all the supply boosters and nothing works. I noticed a very slight increase when taking a fenugreek supplement, but not enough to validate spending the money on it. Even prescription Reglan did not work! So my baby gets half formula and half...

"I get 1 to 1.5 ounces total from both breasts. Even with pumping every three hours in the beginning, I was never able to establish a good supply. Now I pump five times during the day and none overnight. My baby is almost 4 months old. I have tried all the supply boosters and nothing works. I noticed a very slight increase when taking a fenugreek supplement, but not enough to validate spending the money on it. Even prescription Reglan did not work! So my baby gets half formula and half breast milk. My theory is that any breast milk is better than nothing, so I continue to pump even though I only get about 10 to 12 ounces per day!"

Some Moms Supplement With Formula

"I exclusively pump and used to make just enough breast milk to satisfy my daughter. That's no longer the case. I have gone from making an ounce an hour to now getting only 2 ounces when I pump every three hours. If I get a good sleep of six hours, then I produce 5 ounces. I have to blend formula and breast milk together for my daughter. She's 4 months old."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.