Breastfeeding by the Numbers

breast milk by the numbers__1456607073_162.206.228.38We’re firm believers that “breast is best” when it is a feasible option for you and your baby.  Breastfeeding is a fascinating journey of bonding, love and nourishment.  While this is one of the most natural adventures you’ll embark upon in your life, there is a lot of data and stats involved in breastfeeding.  Today we’re exploring breastfeeding by the numbers.  That is, all the facts and figures involved in this labor of love.

  • Most infants nurse every 2 to 3 hours.  Your pediatrician may say your baby can go longer stretches at night depending on her individual state of health.
  • Most infants will nurse 7 to 12 times a day.
  • Exclusively breastfed babies take between 19 and 30 oz. of milk per day for the first 1 to 6 months.
  • Expectant mothers start the process of breast milk production as early as the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.
  • There are 3 stages of breast milk during the first month after your baby is born:  thick protein-rich colostrum is the first available milk for 1 to 7 days after birth; then new mothers produce transitional milk for 8 to 20 days; after around 20 days, your mature milk will sustain your baby.
  • Mature milk comes in 2 phases:  foremilk and hindmilk.  Foremilk is the watery milk that babies get at the beginning of a feeding that is more plentiful.  Hindmilk is the milk expressed later in the feeding that contains more fat.
  • Breast milk contains approximately 11 grams of fat, 170 calories, 2.5 grams of protein and 17 grams of carbohydrates per cup.
  • A let-down usually occurs within the first 2 minutes of breastfeeding.  This is when the breast tightens or tingles and then milk begins to flow more freely.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for at least 6 months and continuing to breastfeed for a year or more.
  • In the U.S., while over 75% of babies are breastfed at birth, only around 16% of babies are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life.
  • Breastfeeding burns up to 600 calories a day.
  • Breast milk can be unrefrigerated for up to 5 hours, refrigerated for 3 to 8 days and frozen for up to 6 months before it will spoil.  If it is easier, just remember the number 5 – 5 hours unrefrigerated, 5 days in the refrigerator and 5 months in the freezer.

There you have it, the basic stats about breastfeeding and breast milk.  But the most important take-away is that breastfeeding is number 1 when it comes to the health of your baby!