I remember when I brought my first little one home. I was over the moon to finally leave the hospital but I’ll admit I was pretty nervous!
One question that kept me up at night was, ‘Is my newborn getting enough breast milk?‘
It’s such a constant worry, isn’t it? We can’t measure what they’re getting like with a bottle, and it feels like we’re navigating in the dark.
I spent countless hours researching, talking to my pediatrician, and reaching out to other moms. And you know what? I found out that our babies have their own ways of telling us they’re just fine and dandy.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the five signs that eased my worries and will hopefully put your mind at rest too. We’ll talk about everything from weight gain to diaper changes, and even those adorable little sounds they make when they’re nursing.
Remember, momma, you’re not alone in this journey. We’re in this together, and together we’ll ensure our little ones are thriving. So, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive in!”
5 Signs of Sufficient Milk Intake
1. Baby’s urine
Monitoring your baby’s wet diapers (or wet nappies depending on where you are from!) is crucial to ensure they’re getting enough breastmilk.
In the first few days, expect at least one wet diaper per day of life (e.g., one wet diaper on day one, two wet diapers on day two).
After the first week, there should be at least six wet diapers per day with pale yellow or colorless urine.
2. Baby’s bowel movements
A baby who is getting enough milk will have regular bowel movements and dirty diapers.
In the first few days, it is normal for a newborn to have one to three bowel movements per day.
After the first week, your baby should have at least two stools daily, transitioning to yellow, seedy stools. They may vary in frequency and consistency depending on whether they are breastfed or formula-fed.
Stools may become less frequent after a few weeks.
3. Gaining weight
A newborn who is getting enough milk will steadily gain weight.
Regularly visiting your health care provider or WIC clinic for your baby’s weight check is crucial to monitoring their growth.
By day 10-14 of your baby’s life, they should be back to their birth weight.
Expected weight gain for your baby is about 155-240 grams or 5.5-8.5 ounces per week until they reach four months of age.
During the first few days of life, it is normal for a breastfed baby to lose weight, up to 10% of their body weight. This weight loss may make you, as a new mom, wonder if your baby is getting enough milk. Don’t worry as this initial weight loss is completely normal for newborns. After the first few days, consistent weight gain is the best indicator that your baby is getting enough nutrition.
4. Alert and content
A well-fed baby is generally alert, content, and satisfied after nursing.
Appear satisfied after a feeding session
Exhibit signs of being content, such as relaxed limbs and a calm demeanor
5. Swallowing sounds
During breastfeeding and bottle feeding, you should be able to hear your baby swallow. If your baby demonstrates rhythmic sucks with occasional pauses in their feeding, this indicates they’re actively feeding and is a sign of milk flowing.
If your baby shows signs of satisfaction and contentment after feeding, gains weight consistently, notice that your breasts feel softer when they come off the breast, and follows these diaper patterns, it’s a good indication of adequate milk intake.
Understanding Breast Milk Supply
Pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues, such as mouthing, rooting or fussing. Breastfeeding on demand, or responsive feeding, ensures your baby gets the appropriate amount of milk they need.
Typically, a breastfed baby nurses at least eight to twelve times a day during the first month, with an average of one to three hours between feedings. This can be exhausting for a multitude of reasons hence why all new moms look like they could fall asleep at any moment! It’s crucial to take care of yourself and accept help whenever it is offered – after all a cup of tea you haven’t had to make yourself always tastes better doesn’t it?
Why is breastfeeding so exhausting? Read about it here: Breastfeeding and Burnout: Why Is Breastfeeding So Exhausting?
Newborns sometimes go through phases of “cluster feeding”, where they feed more frequently and for longer periods, especially during early growth spurts. Don’t worry if your baby feeds more often than usual during these times; adjusting to the increased demand helps your milk supply and is not often a sign that they aren’t getting enough milk.
Further reading: Cluster Feeding: A Comprehensive Guide for New Moms
Breast Milk Production
Breast milk production is an amazing process and it’s completely normal for you to wonder a few days in how much milk your newborn baby is getting. Your body starts to produce milk during pregnancy, and once your baby is born, it will continue to do so based on their needs and feeding habits.
Soon after birth, your breasts will produce colostrum – a thick, yellowish substance rich in nutrients and antibodies affectionately referred to as ‘liquid gold’. As your baby starts nursing more, the colostrum will transition to mature milk, which is thinner and whiter in color.
One of the best ways to ensure a good milk supply is to breastfeed frequently and consistently. During the first two months of your baby’s life, expect to nurse at least 10 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. This will help keep your milk production high and ensure that your baby is getting the nutrients they need.
Learn all about the wonders of breastmilk: 52 Fascinating Breastmilk Facts: Discover the Incredible Truths About Nature’s Nourishment
Addressing Low Milk Supply Issues
Am I Producing enough milk for my newborn? – Identifying Low Milk Supply
Keep in mind that true low supply is believed to affect only 10% to 15% of breastfeeding moms.
To identify if you’re facing low milk supply issues, observe the following factors:
The number of wet diapers your baby has each day
Your baby’s weight gain pattern
Any possible signs of dehydration, such as dark-colored urine or a sunken fontanelle
If your baby is always sleepy or takes too long to feed, it could be an indication that they’re not getting enough milk. Additionally, watch out for signs like painful or shallow latching.
Remember that your breasts might feel softer and less full as your milk supply adjusts to your baby’s needs, which is not necessarily a sign of low milk supply.
Further reading: How Do I Know When My Breast Is Empty When Breastfeeding?
Milk Supply Increasement
A very common worry for breastfeeding mothers is the abundance (or lack thereof) of breast milk. But don’t worry – there are plenty of steps you can take to increase it:
Feed on demand: This means nursing whenever your baby seems hungry, even if it’s more frequently than every 3 hours. The more often you breastfeed, the more breast milk your body will produce. Offering your breast frequently, without strict timings, helps establish and maintain supply.
Improve latch: Ensuring your baby has a good latch can have a significant impact on your milk production.
Stay well-hydrated: Drink enough water and other fluids throughout the day to ensure you’re hydrated.
Breastfeed from both sides: Offering both breasts during each feeding session will stimulate more milk production and provide a balanced nutrient intake for your baby. Try letting your baby nurse for 10-15 minutes on each side during feedings. This will allow them to fully drain the milk from your breasts and potentially improve your supply. Read more about this here: How Do I Know When To Switch Sides Breastfeeding?
Comfortable nursing positions: Make sure you and your baby are comfortable during feeding sessions. A relaxed position will encourage better and more effective nursing – check out this article: 16 of the Best Breastfeeding Tips for Newborns: Master the Art of the Boob
Pump when necessary: If you have to be away from your baby or they’re unable to nurse, using a breast pump can help to maintain your milk supply. Pump as often as you would normally nurse.
Consult a lactation consultant: If you’re still concerned about your milk supply, seeking professional advice can help put your mind at ease and provide personalized solutions.
Find more tips to increase your milk supply here: How to Increase Milk Supply Quickly: Tips and Tricks for Breastfeeding Moms
Consulting a Professional healthcare provider
Although it may feel it sometimes, you are never alone in your breastfeeding journey. It’s essential to establish a connection with your baby’s doctor right from the beginning. They can provide you with guidance and support as you navigate the journey of breastfeeding, concerns about your baby’s weight gain or your milk supply.
Remember, your baby’s doctor is part of your healthcare team and is there to help you ensure your baby is getting enough breast milk.
A health visitor is another professional resource available to new moms. They can provide advice on various topics, such as breastfeeding, infant nutrition, and growth. Health visitors often work closely with pediatricians, so they are familiar with your baby’s medical history. They can also conduct regular assessments to monitor your baby’s growth and development.
By regularly engaging with your health visitor, you can ensure that you’re on the right track with your baby’s feeding journey.
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding or experiencing issues like sore nipples, a lactation consultant or breastfeeding counselor can be incredibly helpful. They are certified health professionals who specialize in breastfeeding issues. They can address problems related to milk supply, latch, feeding positions, and more.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a lactation specialist if you need support, especially in the early days of breastfeeding. A consultation can provide valuable insights and tailored solutions to help you and your baby enjoy a successful breastfeeding experience.
Monitor your baby’s weight gain, feeding patterns, and behavior for signs of sufficient milk intake.
Learn about factors that contribute to successful breastfeeding, such as milk supply and nursing styles.
Don’t hesitate to consult professionals for guidance and support if you have concerns about your baby’s nutrition.
As any new parent will tell you, it’s natural to ask yourself: ‘Is my newborn getting enough breast milk?’ or ‘Is my newborn eating enough?’ Rest assured that there are ways to tell whether your baby is getting enough, and if not, there are steps you can take to address it.
If they’re sucking effectively and coming off the breast satisfied, that’s a great sign!
Remember, it takes time to build confidence in breastfeeding and to learn your baby’s cues. If you’re still unsure about your baby’s milk intake, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional or lactation consultant for guidance and support.
You’re doing great, and with time and patience, you and your baby will find the perfect balance for a successful breastfeeding journey.
Questions? I Have Answers.
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