The Signs Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk

What To Watch For

How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk
Breastfeed your baby every 2 to 3 hours.. Barros/The Image Bank/Getty Images

How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk

How can you tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk? Not having enough breast milk is a common worry that breastfeeding mothers have. Bottles allow you to measure the exact amount of milk your baby is taking. While you can't see and actually measure that amount of breast milk that your baby is taking in when you breastfeed, there are certainly other ways you can tell if your baby 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 baby to lose up to 10% of his or her body weight. After the first few days, though, a consistent weight gain is the best way to confirm that your baby is getting enough nutrition.

Other Good Signs Include:

  • Your baby is breastfeeding at least every 2 to 3 hours, or 8 to 12 times a day.
     
  • Your baby has wet (urine) diapers. After the fifth day of life, your baby should have at least 6 to 8 wet diapers each day.
     
  • You can hear your little one swallowing while she's breastfeeding, and you can see breast milk in her mouth.
     
  • Your breasts are less full and feel softer after each feeding.
     
  • Your child appears content after nursing, and he sleeps between breastfeedings.

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

The first stool your baby will pass is called meconium.

It is thick, sticky, and black or dark green. The baby will have at least one or two meconium stools a day for the first two days. As the meconium passes, the stool will turn greenish-yellow before it becomes 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 as your baby gets older, the stool pattern can change. Every baby is different. After about a month, it is normal for a baby to have a dirty diaper with every diaper change. It is 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 is very little 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 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months of age. During a growth spurt, your child will nurse more often.

This increase in breastfeeding usually only lasts a few days, and it is needed to stimulate your body to make more breast milk to meet your baby's growing nutritional needs.

Should You Let Your Baby Sleep Through The Night?

During the first two months, your baby should be breastfeeding every 2 to 3 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 baby's weight and make sure the baby is breastfeeding well. It is 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.

Notify Your Baby's Doctor If:

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

These are some signs that your baby 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 back on the right track.

Sources:

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

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