Breastfeeding may be deemed the most ‘natural’ way to feed a child, but that can be a risky misconception. When people call something natural, they are labeling it as easy, or something that should just happen. This is not true when it comes to breastfeeding, so everyone needs to stop calling it that
Breastfeeding is hard. There are aspects of it that would make it easier than bottle feedings, such as the cost and no clean-up, but it is exhausting. A mother who chooses to breastfeed will usually be the one feeding the baby. She will also be the one who calms the baby most of the time, as nursing is just as much about comfort as it is about food.
Another big struggle with breastfeeding is never knowing exactly how much the little one is getting. Bottle-feeding has the convenience of measurements on the side of the bottle, so mom is able to track exactly how much her baby is taking in during a feed. A woman doesn’t have those.
There are certain things mom can look out for when it comes to seeing how her milk supply is. We are going to go over 10 signs a mom’s system is not making enough milk for her baby, and 10 signs she may be making a little too much.
20 Too Low: Not Enough #2
One of the best methods for determining if your baby is getting enough milk is to watch their diaper input. What goes in must come out so being on diaper watch will give you a good idea on how much milk your body is producing.
Before a baby is three months old, they should have about 5 #2 diapers a day. Now, this is not always reliable as a breastfed baby can go days without this because it is easier absorbed than formula so there is not much waste to dispose of. There should be at least 8 wet diapers a day. If mom notices a lot less than this amount, she should speak to her doctor.
19 Too Low: A Certain Colour
Breastmilk is really all a baby needs, it is both food and liquid, so they are getting all they need to eat and drink from the breast. Breastfed babies can get dehydrated and this would be a sign that your body is not making enough breastmilk for them. You would watch for dehydration in a baby the same way you would notice it in an adult, the colour of their pee.
Babies who are getting enough breastmilk will have clear, colourless pee. There should not be a colour to it. If the urine is dark yellow than it is a sign that they are not getting enough to filter it out. I bet no one though that they would spend so much time inspecting a baby’s diaper until the day they became a mom.
18 Too Low: No Swallowing
None of these clues are ever going to be 100% reliable, which is why it is so important that mom checks in with a lactation consultant in the early days to make sure everything is OK. A lot of the clues to how mom’s milk supply is will come directly from observing the baby while they are at the breast. When a mom bottle feeds her baby, she knows he is taking milk in because she can see the milk leaving the bottle.
Breastfeeding mothers can not do that, so they have to watch their baby. Mom will want to watch and make sure her baby is actively drinking, most importantly swallowing. A baby will not swallow what is not coming out so if she notices that there is not a lot going on it could be an indicator that not much is coming out.
17 Too Low: The baby's Not Content
Think back to the last holiday we had, one with a big meal. After we eat a big meal, we are left feeling satisfied and content. A baby should feel the same way after they finish a meal. A baby who is not getting enough milk will often be left to feel uncomfortable and not content at all. In order to use this as a semi-accurate sign mom must make sure nothing else could be making her baby uncomfortable.
If the baby is dry, has been burped and has had all of his other needs met but still seems to be in some discomfort chances are he is still hungry. If your baby is not content after a feeding that may mean that they did not get enough to eat.
16 Too Low: Not Gaining enough
Nothing makes a breastfeeding mother more nervous than when her baby gets weighed. She sees it as a direct reflection on the job she is doing to feed her baby. It can be cause for great anxiety and discomfort if her baby is not gaining weight like they should be. If the doctor notices that the baby is not gaining the weight they should, they will most likely do follow-up appointments.
This is also the time they should be referring mom to a lactation consultant who are better equipped to try and figure out how mom’s supply is. If your doctor does not do this, it is important to speak up and ask to be referred yourself.
15 Too Low: Moist Eyes
A lot of people would never have though to check their baby’s eyes to make sure they are getting enough milk, but it is true. Those beautiful eyes can tell us a lot about our baby, including if they are getting enough milk. What you want to see in your baby’s eyes is a wet and moisture filled area. If the eyes are dry it could be a sign that there is not enough milk.
Dry eyes could be a sign of dehydration in infants and needs to be addressed right away. Unfortunately, it also could be due to a lot of other things, so it is important to bring it up with your doctor as well to rule out allergies or other possible irritants.
14 Too Low: Slow Milestone Development
We often take feeing our babies for granted, and we don’t fully understand or think about the fact that feeding our babies is what enables them to grow strong and on track. If the baby is not hitting milestones, it could be a sign that they are not being nourished as they should be. Or, that they are not getting enough breastmilk.
Every baby and child develop differently, but they should still follow the same timeline to some extent. These concerns should be brought up to the doctor because they could also be indicators of more serious conditions that are not so easily fixed.
13 Too Low: Low Energy
The reason we are all able to get up and move around is because we eat. The food we eat is what gives us energy to get through our day and it is the same with babies. They need food to give them energy and they need a lot of it. If your baby is acting a little lazy, it could mean that there is not enough milk there to give them the energy they need.
When babies get a little older, they should have a lot of energy. They should be moving around and leaving mom and dad to wonder where they get all the energy. Well, they get it from the breastmilk, so if the breastmilk is not there, the energy won’t be as well.
12 Too Low: Bad Latch
Breastfeeding is something that is learned, and it takes a while for mom and baby to get the hang of it, and that includes the latch. It is normal for the baby to have a hard time latching in the beginning because he is learning, and this is what causes sore nipples. After time, the latch will get better as long as there is milk.
If there is not enough milk, the baby may continue to latch and unlatch during a feeding. This is because he is getting frustrated that not a lot of milk is coming out and will unlatch and re-latch to try and stimulate let down in the breast. Mom can always try and pump and see how much milk she is producing, but pumping is not good enough on its own to determine supply.
11 Too Low: Hungry Baby
This one may seem like the most obvious sign that mom is not making enough milk for her baby. If the baby seems hungry. This is not always that simple when a baby is breastfeeding because they want to be on the breast for many reasons. They will often use it for comfort, sort of like a human pacifier. They also go through periods of cluster feeding.
Cluster feeding is when a baby wants to be on the breast almost all day because they are trying to build mom’s supply for a growth spurt that’s coming. Mom will want to look out for true signs of hunger like crying and rooting for the breast.
10 Too High: Full And Hard Most Of The Time
There are instances when mom can make too much milk. There really is no such thing as too much breastmilk and a lot of women will donate some of their milk to other babies who need it. However, an oversupply can cause discomfort in mom. One of the clearest signs are breasts that are full and hard most of the time.
This is normal in the beginning of a breastfeeding journey because it takes time for mom’s body to adjust to the baby’s needs. However, after a few weeks have passed this should calm down. If mom is still feeling an uncomfortable fullness most of the time than chances are, she is making too much milk and she should start pumping to ease the discomfort.
9 Too High: Short Latches
It turns out that we can learn a lot about our milk supply simply from the baby’s latch. We already learned that a poor latch could mean that there is not enough milk for the baby, but it could also mean that there is too much. If the baby is constantly coming off the breast during a feeding that is a sign that the milk is coming to fast and furious for his liking.
In order to determine if this is due to under or over supply, mom will need to check for any other signs that are on this list. If the let down is too powerful, the baby will unlatch because he simply can not keep up.
8 Too High: Like a spraying hose
It also can be quite normal for mom to feel like a garden hose that has sprung a leak, or like on of those stone fountains you see. This is something that happens in the beginning as the milk gets adjusted, but it should die down as the baby ages. If the baby is a few months old and there is still milk squirting everywhere there is probably too much.
If baby is getting a facial every time, he comes off the chest, chances are the milk is too much. This could make it difficult for baby to latch and drink, so if mom notices that this is a constant problem, she may want to express some milk before a feed to take a bit of the pressure off.
7 Too High: Gulp And Cough
If your baby is constantly coughing and choking at the breast there is probably too much. When babies first latch on, they will suck rapidly as they try and start a letdown. As the milk starts to flow, their suck will slow down and become more rhythmed. When the milk comes in, watch your baby. If they are gulping very fast that could mean that there is too much coming out.
If the baby also breaks the latch and starts coughing it could mean the letdown was too forceful. The milk may have hit the back of his throat causing him to cough and initiating his gag reflex. This may be another instance where mom may want to express some milk before the feeding.
6 Too High: Clamping Down
Babies will often clamp down when they are nursing, and this is a normal behaviour. It won’t really hurt mom until the baby starts getting teeth. However, if they are clamping down excessively it could mean there is too much milk. Babies will normally clamp down near the end of a feed, or if they start to fall asleep when they are nursing.
If a baby clams down many times during a feed, they may be trying to cut-off the milk supply. There is too much milk coming and they don’t want to unlatch so they try and find a way to make it stop, even just for a second while they catch their breath.
5 Too High: Fussy
Nothing induces more stress to a mom than a fussy baby. There are many reasons why a baby could be fussy, and it is important to rule out anything else before landing on the fact that there is too much milk. Make sure the baby is comfortable; that he has been burped and changed. If the baby is fussy during a feed it could mean he is not a happy eater.
If there is too much milk, it will through off the baby’s feeding. The baby wants to feed in a normal paced and slower rhythm. If the milk is coming out too fast and at a greater volume it can make feeding time a little uncomfortable for the baby, so they will be fussy when they are at the breast.
4 Too High: Short Feedings
This is a picture of a baby who would be considered ‘milk drunk.’ It is a state most babies get in when they have had a good feed from either the breast or the bottle. Every baby eats differently and for different lengths of time, some babies eat very quickly and efficiently and some like to linger and really enjoy themselves.
If your baby eats fast, but good, it could mean that you are producing quite a lot of milk. If your breasts are producing a lot of milk than it won’t take long for the baby to feel full. Breastfed babies generally do not take more than they need, so they get in and eat, and then get out. If they are getting satisfied in a short amount of time, chances are you have more than enough milk.
3 Too High: Gassy Baby
Gas is one of the leading causes of an upset baby. A build-up of air in their system can cause them to have a lot of gas that they are unable to release on their own. This is why it is so important to make sure you are probably burping your baby between and after feedings. Gripe water is also your best friend in helping your baby through any tummy troubles.
A baby who is taking in too much milk too quickly could experience more gas than the average baby. That is because they have to drink a lot faster in order to keep up with the milk flow. This means they are letting more air into their system which causes the gas. Just make sure to burp them a little more frequently.
2 Too High: Frequent Spit-Up
Part of the package of having a baby is dealing with a lot of spit-up. It is quite common and normal for babies to spit-up a lot. Their digestive system is still learning how to take in and process milk, and sometimes it can come back up. Gas can also cause this to happen. If a baby is spitting up more frequently than one would consider normal it could mean they are getting a lot of milk.
If milk comes out in large amounts, or too fast, it could cause the baby’s tummy to send some of it back up. It works the same way it would if we ate something too fast. We tend to be uncomfortable until our stomach settles itself.
1 Too High: Mastitis
It is a word that every breastfeeding mother dreads; mastitis. Mastitis is an infection that is caused by a clogged milk duct and it can make mom feel like she has the flu. It also requires antibiotics to clear. This may happen to a mom who is producing a lot of milk because she can not empty her breasts enough. There will be a lot of clogged ducts that lead to an infection.
If mastitis happens a lot, it is probably because mom is producing too much milk. If mom notices that she is producing a lot, she should be pumping between feedings to make sure there is little time for too much milk to build up and store in her breasts.