As a breastfeeding mom, keeping your milk supply balanced is probably one of your top priorities. There's nothing worse than worrying that something you do (or don't do) will affect the quality or quantity of the milk you produce. Although experts harp on the importance of establishing a predictable nursing routine early. That being said, missed feedings happen, and if you've skipped a feeding or two then you're probably wondering how missing a feeding affects your milk supply.
Even the most dedicated of breastfeeding moms will miss a feeding here and there. Between changes with baby's schedule and hunger patterns and real life demands, it's simply a fact of life. But knowing what happens to your milk supply on the chance that you do miss a feeding can help you weigh any potential consequences of skipping it intentionally.
Although your milk supply operates on a supply and demand basis, the fact is that skipping a single feeding on very rare occasions won't have much of an impact on your overall supply. The danger of decreasing your milk supply, however, lies in skipping feedings frequently.
In an interview with Romper, IBCLC Julie Gladney says that frequent removal of milk is essential for adequate milk supply. She adds that anytime you stop frequently and regularly removing breast milk, you're at risk for diminishing your supply.
Gladney goes on to explain that anytime milk isn't removed from the breast, Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation (FIL) is produced. "FIL is a polypetide which, as the name says, inhibits lactation because it has received feedback that milk is not being effectively removed from the breast," she explains
To put it succinctly, as you decrease the amount of milk you remove from your breasts (such as when you regularly skip feedings), eventually your body will send signals to decrease the amount of milk it produces overall.
The Mayo Clinic noted that the biggest inhibitors of milk supply are stress and not removing milk frequently enough (either via pumping or nursing.) As long as you're diligent about keeping to your pumping/feeding schedule, the occasional, rogue skipped feeding won't be the end of the world.