How Do I Know My Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk?
As a new mom, there are so many things you’re attempting to keep track of with your new baby around; it can seem like the list never ends. You may struggle with how to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk and worry that he or she isn’t.
Worries, like these, are completely normal; in fact, many new moms are concerned about breast milk intake!
Listed below are some common signs that your baby is, indeed, getting enough breast milk to learn, grow, and develop as expected. If you notice these signs in your baby, just keep up the great work
On the other hand, if these signs are not present in your baby, use some of the tips at the bottom of this post to help your baby begin to get more breast milk during feeding sessions.
Signs of a well fed baby:
Baby regains birth weight within two weeks
All babies will lose some of their birth weight after delivery—scary, right? Weight loss in a newborn is completely normal, especially during the first 24 hours after birth.
When fluids are given to a mother during delivery, babies receive these fluids through the placenta, too! So give your baby some time to lose that water weight.
After the initial weight loss, we expect babies to slowly regain back to their original birth weight by week two.
Baby has enough wet and poopy diapers
Knowing how much breast milk your baby is taking in at the breast can be very difficult. Bottles clearly show how much milk has been removed, but, unfortunately, our breasts don’t show intake as clearly!
So, how can we measure what baby is getting? The easiest way is to watch your baby’s diaper output.
Expect one poopy and one wet diaper for each day since birth (i.e. one of each on the first day and three of each on day three postpartum).
Baby seems satisfied after a feeding
Babies are really good at showing us how they are feeling. If your baby is acting unsatisfied or seems hungry immediately after a feeding, he or she may not be receiving enough milk at the breast.
Your breast will likely feel emptier after a good feeding.
Baby stays awake for a full feeding
Babies are naturally tired and spend a lot of time sleeping, making it hard to keep them awake for long periods of time.
Especially at the beginning, your baby will likely fall asleep during most feedings. Falling asleep before a feeding session is over will keep your baby from getting all the breast milk they need.
Baby nurses frequently and wakes up when hungry
If your baby is waking up frequently (meaning 8-12x/day) to feed, that is a really good sign he or she is getting enough! Sounds backwards, huh?
Babies who don’t wake often to feed and sleep longer periods of time don’t have the energy necessary to be awake and alert
Baby is alert and active for some periods of time during the day
Again, anytime baby is awake for a period of time, it’s a good sign that they have adequate energy intake.
Enjoy those interactive times with your baby. When a baby is undernourished, they will be extremely lethargic and will not have these times of being quiet and alert with you.
If you are noticing that any of the signs on this list above are not occurring with your baby, it is a good idea to try to find ways to help your baby get more breast milk.
Here are a few main tips of things that will naturally help your baby get more from the breast:
Help keep baby awake for the whole feeding
Birth is an exhausting event for both mother and baby. Babies spend a lot of their first few days, and even weeks, sleeping in order to recuperate from the birthing experience.
Sleep is very important for a new baby, but if a baby is falling asleep in the middle of the feeding without finishing, this will likely lead to a risk of underfeeding.
When your baby starts to drift off to sleep (because every baby will), try to find ways to wake your baby back up.
Your baby may need your help to stay awake for the entirety of a feeding. This is also a great job to give partners, family, and friends to help with!
Let baby finish on one side before switching
Small babies can take some time to feed. Don’t rush the feeding by switching sides too early. How early is too early? Babies will generally stimulate multiple different let downs within a feeding, so let them continue to suck until those let downs are no longer happening.
Most babies will naturally let go of the breast when they are done. If you do happen to switch breasts too early, no worries! You can switch back again and offer each breast multiple times during a feeding session.
Massage and compress your breast while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is hard work for a baby. If baby isn’t getting enough at the breast, anything we can do to make it easier on the baby is awesome.
Breast compressions and massaging in circular motions around the breast while baby is feeding can help baby get more milk without putting in extra effort.
Again, these are common worries to have at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey. Remember that your body was made to breastfeed and that your body is capable of making everything that you baby needs it to, as long as you give it a chance!
Keep putting your baby to the breast and don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional if you are noticing things aren’t getting better. Keep up the hard work momma!