How much milk should I be making?

This short post comes from my response to a question in the comments of the Pumping Sucks post (thanks Kelly).  

The amount of milk you make and how much fat and calories it contains will vary a lot from person to person (and from day-to-day and hour-to-hour in the same person).  This article from the journal Pediatrics provides an interesting overview of what 71 "normal" moms produced:

Volume and Frequency of Breastfeedings and Fat Content of Breast Milk Throughout the Day

The paper is thorough - it even describes the output of "the more productive breast" versus "the less productive breast."  Ah, the poor, "less productive breast" all it ever hears is "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia."

They observed a per day milk output of 440-1220g, which translates roughly to 15-41 oz. (only two women fell outside this range, both on the high side). The mothers have infants from 1-6 months old.  This data is consistent with the kellymom discussion of this topic, which gives 25 oz. as the average milk consumed per day by a breastfed baby 6 months and older.  If you are on the low end - you may just make more caloric milk.  As long as your baby is gaining weight, don't worry! 

After around  6-7 months, breastmilk consumption and production plateau as you start adding to the menu mashed-up, breastmilk-added versions of all the super healthy foods they'll snub in pre-school. Milk production may even decrease a little after that, but that doesn't always mean less nursing since the boob is an all around comfort station for breastfed babies and toddlers.  

Breastfeeding continues to provide key nutrition and immune support as you add new foods, which is why it's encouraged for at least a year or two by most medical and health organizations and as much longer than that as possible by most toddlers.