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Breastfeeding – what is normal?

Young baby being breastfedDid you know that it is normal for boys to drink more per day than girls?

Did you know that it is normal for one breast to produce more milk than the other?

Did you also know that ‘normal’ can mean many things when it comes to breastfeeding your baby?

Recent research by Dr Jacqueline Kent from the University of Western Australia has redefined the boundaries for what is considered ‘normal’ breastfeeding.

Her research has shown that there’s a wide range of ‘normal’ when it comes to how long babies feed, how long each breastfeeding session takes, and how much milk the baby drinks each time. It shows that babies – like adults – are all different and that what’s important is that YOU know what is ‘normal’ for your baby.

One of the key outcomes from the research is that mothers can be reassured that their baby’s breastfeeding patterns are normal – which can help maintain or improve their confidence about breastfeeding.

The infographic below shows some of the main points from the study. The babies who took part in the study were between one and six months of age, were full-term infants, growing according to the WHO Growth Charts and exclusively breastfed on demand.

Some of the finding are not too surprising – it has shown that as babies grow from 1 to 3 months, they take fewer, faster, larger breastfeeds – but other finding were quite interesting – including the fact that the amount they take for a whole day stays consistent up to 6 months.

According to the study is because between 3 and 6 months babies grow more slowly and have a relatively lower metabolic rate, so they don’t need more milk.

So what is considered the normal range for breastfed babies aged 1-6 months?

  • 4-13 breastfeeding sessions a day
  • 12-67 minutes per breastfeeding session
  • 54-234ml average amount of milk taken in one breastfeeding session
  • 30 per cent drink from just one breast per session, 13 per cent always take both, 57 per cent mix it up
  • Only 36 per cent of babies feed during the day only. 64 per cent spread their milk intake evenly over the 24 hours.

As you can see the range of normal is quite wide. What is most important is that you know what is normal for you and for your baby. If your baby is happy, healthy and meeting their milestones you can be assured that their breastfeeding pattern is normal.

Check out the key findings in the infographic below. Or you can download the Breastfeeding – What is Normal PDF.

Medela infographic what is normal when it comes to breastfeeding

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This blog post is sponsored by Medela.

NOTE: This information is not intended to replace actual medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your baby contact your health care provider.

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2 comments so far -

  1. Finally an article to reassure mums there’s nothing wrong with their milk or breasts or baby – I’ve breastfed all my children and yes there are many types of normal. On demand feeding Is the way to go when a baby is genuine hungry not every one hour 20+ times a day (not referring to cluster feeds) with baby sleeping 4 hours of broken sleep in 24 that’s why your baby is cranky it’s not your milk it’s lack of sleep

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