The short answer is that no nursing mother can run out of breast milk. You will have as much breast milk as your baby needs, and it is a process based on supply and demand. No baby drinks more milk than their mother can provide.
Can you run out of breast milk while pumping?
The possibility to run out of breast milk while you are pumping doesn’t exist either.
You want to keep pumping, though, until you express the foremilk, so you get to the hindmilk. The more you pump, the thicker your breast milk will get, which slows down the pumping process.
But since your body doesn’t know the difference between pumping and nursing, it will keep producing milk as long as you pump.
Your breasts will feel lighter as you get to the fat milk, but that doesn’t mean they are empty.
The difference between pumping and nursing is also that you can actually pump until your breasts are light enough, and you got the kind milk when your baby will not always drink until that point.
So, you might find yourself pumping after nursing just to get to the fat milk and store it for later.
As we stated previously, your breasts will keep producing breast milk as long as there is a demand for it.
So, if you pump your milk or if your baby keeps nursing, you will not run out of breast milk. However, your breast milk will dry out if there is no stimulation.
If you stop nursing your baby and expressing your milk, you should run out of breast milk within three days and, in some rare cases, within a week.
As you run out of breast milk, you will feel your breasts getting lighter and less engorged. But that can happen when your milk supply is running slow, not when you run out of it entirely, which will only happen if you stop nursing.
As your breast milk gets lower, your baby will also struggle a bit more to eat. They will work more to get full, and if you pump your milk, you will notice that the expressing process is also slower.
Your milk supply will dry up if you stop pumping or nursing your baby. But the time it takes to dry up is relative to each person.
Some mothers will notice that their milk dried up in 1 to 3 days, while for others, it might even take up to a week.
You will also notice that your milk supply adjusts to the rhythm with which your baby is eating. As they grow, they will need more milk at a meal, but they will start eating less frequently. This is why you will pump more milk in between meals.
However, your body and your baby will be in sync, and eventually, they will both know when it is time to stop the nursing phase. When that happens, there are signs to look out for, so you know what to expect.
One of the main signs is to see how much your baby eats. If your breast milk supply is low, they will finish eating faster and still seem hungry afterward.
Your breasts will also feel lighter if you produce less milk. You can test this by using a soft towel and place it on top of your nipples. Press slowly on your breasts and see if the towel is getting any drop of milk on it.
If the towel is dry, this signifies that your breast milk production is drying out or it is dried out completely. Also, if your breasts are more tender, it is a sign that you don’t produce as much milk.