Is Your Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?

The Signs to Watch For

Mother with her newborn child
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Is Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk?

Not having enough breast milk is a common worry that many breastfeeding mothers share. A bottle-feeding mom can measure the exact amount of breast milk or formula that their child is getting. But, if you're breastfeeding, there isn't a measurement system marked on your breasts. So, how will you know if your making enough breast milk and your baby is getting enough at each feeding?

Well, while you can't see and actually measure the amount of breast milk in your breasts, there certainly are other ways to tell if you're baby is getting what he needs. Here are the signs to watch for that will let you know that your child is getting enough breast milk.

Weight Gain Is The Best Sign That Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk

In the first few days of life, it is normal for a breastfed baby to lose up to 10% of his or her body weight. But, after the first few days, a consistent weight gain is the best way to confirm that your baby is getting enough nutrition.

Other Signs to Watch for Include:

  • After breastfeeding your breasts feel softer and not as full as they did before the feeding. 
     
  • Your child appears satisfied and content after nursing, and he sleeps between breastfeedings.

Are Bowel Movements a Reliable Sign That Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk?

The first poop that your baby will pass is called meconium.

It's thick, sticky, and black or dark green. Newborns have at least one or two of these meconium stools a day for the first two days. Then, as the meconium passes out of your baby's body, his bowel movements will turn greenish-yellow before they become a looser, mustard yellow breastfeeding stool that may or may not have milk curds called "seeds" in it.

During the first few weeks, your baby should have two or more bowel movements a day, but after those first few weeks, the stool pattern can change. Every baby is different. After about a month, it's normal for a baby to have a poopy diaper with every diaper change. But, it's also normal for a baby to have a bowel movement once every few days or even once a week. Breast milk is the ultimate nutrition and very easily digested. So, for some babies, there's not much waste, and therefore, fewer dirty diapers.

Is It a Growth Spurt or Not Enough Breast Milk?

If your baby has been breastfeeding well, and then all of a sudden seems to want to nurse all the time and appears less satisfied, it may not be a problem with your supply of breast milk.

It may be a growth spurt.

All babies are unique and have growth spurts at different times. Some of the common times that newborns and infants may have a growth spurt are at approximately ten days, three weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months of age. During a growth spurt, a child breastfeeds more often. This increase in breastfeeding usually only lasts a few days, and it's needed to stimulate your body to make more breast milk to meet your baby's growing nutritional needs.

Newborns, Infants, and Sleeping Through the Night

During the first two months, your baby should be breastfeeding every two to three hours, even throughout the night. After two months, some babies will begin to have longer stretches between breastfeedings during the night. Again, every baby is different, and while some babies will sleep through the night by three months of age, others may not sleep through the night for many months. The same sleep pattern is also true of formula-fed infants, and it is not an indicator that your baby is not getting enough breast milk.

See Your Baby's Doctor Regularly For Well Child Exams

You will see your baby's pediatrician or healthcare provider within a few days of leaving the hospital to check your child's weight, and make sure she's breastfeeding well and getting enough breast milk. It's very important to continue to see your baby's doctor at regular intervals. At these visits, the doctor will examine your child to check for appropriate growth and development. 

When to Call Your Baby's Doctor

  • Your newborn is not breastfeeding well.
  • Your child is very sleepy and does not wake up for most feedings.
  • Your little one has pink, red, or very dark yellow concentrated urine or less than six wet diapers a day after the fifth day of life.
  • Your baby is crying, sucking, and showing signs of hunger even with frequent breastfeeding.

These are some signs that your newborn may not be getting enough breast milk. Talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant as soon as possible to have the baby examined and your breastfeeding technique checked. The sooner you get help for any difficulties that may arise, the easier it will be to correct the problems and get breastfeeding back on the right track.

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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