Breastfeeding, Wet Diapers, and Your Baby's Urine

The Common Questions About Newborn Urination

Woman changing baby's diaper
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The number of wet (urine) diapers a breastfed baby has each day changes during the first week of life. In the first few days, your newborn will not receive that much breast milk, so there will be fewer wet diapers. As the days go on, and your supply of breast milk increases, your baby will produce more urine and have more wet diapers. It's important to understand what is normal in your newborn's diaper.

By keeping track of how many wet diapers your baby has each day, you will be able to determine if your child is getting enough breast milk

How Often Should a Newborn Pass Urine?

A newborn baby will pass urine for the first time within 12 to 24 hours of birth. During the first few days of life, an exclusively breastfed baby may not have many wet (urine) diapers. You should look for at least two wet diapers a day until your breast milk begins to fill your breasts by the third or fourth day postpartum. After the sixth day, your baby should be having at least six to eight wet diapers every 24 hours but may she have more.

Can a Baby Have Too Many Wet Diapers?

A baby has a little bladder that holds about one tablespoon (15ml) of urine, so he or she may empty it very often. Some newborns will pee up to 20 times in 24 hours, and that's OK. If your baby is sleeping, you don't have to wake him up to change a diaper.

A diaper change before or after each feeding, approximately every two to three hours, will do.

What If Your Newborn Is Not Urinating?

Your newborn should have at least two wet diapers during the first few days when you're only making colostrum. But, by the time your baby is six days old, she should have at least six wet diapers a day.

If your child is not urinating at all, call the doctor immediately.

How to Tell If Your Baby's Diaper Is Wet

Since newborns only make a small amount of urine and disposable diapers are very absorbent, it can be hard to determine if the diapers are wet and your baby is making enough urine. So, here are a few things you can do to make sure your child is having enough wet diapers:

  • Pour one ounce (two tablespoons, 30ml) of water into a clean, dry diaper. It will give you a better idea of how a wet diaper looks and feels.
  • Place a tissue into your baby's diaper to absorb the urine and make it easier to see.
  • After you change your baby, take the diaper apart to check the under layers or gel material for moisture.
  • Try cloth diapers. It's easier to tell if a cloth diaper is wet when compared to a disposable diaper.

What Color Should Your Baby's Urine Be?

Your baby's urine should be colorless or light yellow.  However, you may notice some slight color changes once in a while. Certain foods, food dyes, herbs, and vitamin supplements that you include in your daily diet could make the color of your breast milk and your baby's urine appear green, pink, or orange.

What Is Concentrated Urine?

Concentrated urine is very dark yellow.

After your milk comes in, a diaper with concentrated urine once in a while is okay. However, if your baby has many diapers with concentrated urine, call the doctor.

What Is Brick Dust Urine?

Very concentrated urine during the first few days of life can contain urate crystals (uric acid crystals). These urate crystals may cause a pink, red, or orange-colored, powdery stain in your baby's diaper called brick dust. It might be scary, but this is a normal occurrence for many newborns. Once your breast milk supply increases, by the fifth or sixth day, your baby's urine shouldn't be concentrated, and it should no longer contain brick dust.

Notify Your Baby's Doctor If:

  • You see brick dust stains in your newborn’s diaper after the fourth day of life.
  • The baby is only a making a small amount of very dark yellow, concentrated urine after day four.
  • The baby is having fewer than six wet diapers each day after day five.
     

These signs could mean that your baby is dehydrated and not getting enough breast milk. Your child's pediatrician will examine your child’s health and discuss your breastfeeding technique. You may also want to contact a lactation consultant to help you with proper positioning and latch.

Blood in Your Baby's Diaper

Baby girls may have a blood-tinged vaginal discharge during the first few days of life. It's called pseudo-menstruation, or false menstruation. It is the result of hormonal changes in your baby's body, and it's not a cause for concern.

Baby boys may have a small amount of blood in their diapers after a circumcision. The bleeding from a circumcision will usually last for a few hours, but you may notice small spots of blood in the diaper for up to a day. After a circumcision, your baby should have a wet diaper within 12 hours.

Blood in Your Baby's Urine

Blood in your baby's diaper that is not from a circumcision or pseudo-menstruation is not considered normal. If you see any blood in your little one's urine or your child is showing signs of painful urination, contact your baby's doctor right away.

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Cadwell, Karin, Turner-Maffei, Cynthia, O'Connor, Barbara, Cadwell Blair, Anna, Arnold, Lois D.W., and Blair Elyse M. Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation A Guide for the Practitioner Second Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 2006.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding: A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

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