Motherhood is a very exciting time in a woman’s life however it can also be ridden with anxiety. Whether it is a mother’s first child or not, a common worry many moms have is that their baby is getting enough food and nutrition. One of the first challenges a mother will face when their newborn arrives is feeding.
For those who have decided to breastfeed, it can truly bond a mother to her child though it can have its difficulties. Knowing if a mom has enough breastmilk can be a challenge as no one can physically see how much a baby is consuming unless it has been measured into a bottle. It can be hard to know if a mother has enough milk for their child, which can raise a lot of stress and worry. With so many wonderful benefits of breastmilk, many mothers do strive to produce enough so that they can give their baby the best.
It should not be a stressful experience, though for many it can be. There are many health practitioners that are available for support, hence it is important that moms and moms-to-be know there are people always there to help. Knowing if a mom has enough breastmilk is decisive to the feeding practice; below are 15 signs that they will have enough and 5 signs that signal she may not.
20 Baby Latches Correctly
Latching, also known how a baby attaches to a mother’s chest, is very important when it comes to breastfeeding. This can determine how well breastfeeding will go and whether you have enough milk for your baby to consume.
When you have your baby, your midwife will help show you how a baby should latch and will help make this process much easier and stress-free. If you begin to feel pain, there may be a problem with your baby latching on correctly. This will mean they will not get enough milk and will prevent you from refilling and producing more breastmilk.
19 Baby Is Swallowing While Feeding
Once your baby has latched on correctly, it is important to watch whether your baby is sucking. Sucking helps stimulate your milk and ensures that your baby is consuming what they need to be satisfied with their feed. If you see rapid sucks change to suckling and swallowing rhythmically, at about one suckle per second, this can determine that your milk is flowing.
As your baby continues to swallow you will know you have milk flowing which can put your mind at ease. According to What To Expect, "As the baby suckles, your prolactin levels increase and more milk is produced." It is all about stimulating your supply to help you produce more breastmilk for the next feed.
18 More Demand Improves Milk Supply
Feeding more frequently will help bring in more breastmilk. The human body is a wonderful thing and it knows when you need to produce breastmilk for your baby. Also known as ‘supply and demand,’ your milk supply will grow the more you feed.
This can be difficult as it can be time-consuming, however, if you see that your baby wants more when they latch on, it is best to let them drink. The more your baby drinks, the more your milk supply will increase. Feeding every few hours will become a habit and gives you time to bond with your gorgeous bundle of joy.
17 Dirty Diaper
A great sign that shows you have enough breastmilk is how many diapers you are changing throughout the day. Having more than five wet/dirty diapers is a great indication that they are getting enough fluid in their feeds.
Keeping up regular feeds will help stimulate milk supply and allow your baby to have several diaper changes throughout the day. Stretching a baby’s feed will not only mean that your supply will lessen, but it will also mean that your baby will not have as many wet diapers, which can result in dehydration and not enough food consumed. Diapers are a great indication of how much they are drinking and, in turn, help you determine if your milk supply is satisfactory.
16 Size Matters
Seeing your baby grow in size is a great way to determine that your baby is getting enough milk. A few days after birth, it is normal to have a decline on the scales, however, after this, you should not see any further decline. As a mom, you will be able to use your own instincts whether your baby is growing.
You will also have the help of medical professionals if you are still concerned. You will also be amazed at how quickly you will be going up in clothing sizes at a very young age with your baby only having breastmilk! This is definitely a great indication.
15 Colourless Urine
If our urine is dark in colour as an adult, it is most commonly due to dehydration. This is also the same when it comes to a baby’s urine. Although they may be having wet diapers throughout the day, it is important to check the colour.
If their urine is colourless, your baby is well hydrated which means they are getting enough milk. If it is dark or yellow in colour, this can be an indication that they are not hydrated enough. This could be due to not feeding often enough or your milk supply is low. Feeding more frequently will help bring on extra supply and help make your baby’s urine colourless.
14 Feeling Empty After A Feed
Before feeding your baby, it is common that your breasts feel full and firm. After a feed, you should feel softer and they should not be as full. This is a good indication that you have emptied the milk you produced and it has been consumed by your baby.
In between the feeds, you should then begin to feel fuller and therefore new milk has been produced for the next feed. The more you empty the more you will increase the amount of breastmilk you will produce. Your body will begin to understand it needs to feed a baby and will continue to produce if you continue to feed.
13 Regular Feeds
There is no excuse not to feed your baby regularly. There is no need for delays and ‘too busy to feed’ is not a good excuse to lengthen the time between feeds. This will only hinder your milk supply. Many moms may think that if their baby is feeding more frequently, their baby is not getting enough milk, however, this is not the case.
According to medical doctors and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Nan Jolly, "Babies need to nurse as often as 10 to 12 times a day. These feeds won’t be regular by the clock but will often be clustered. The pattern will develop as every three hours in the morning, two-hourly in the afternoon, half-hourly in the evening and then, hopefully, a five- to six-hour stretch at night."
While feeding on one side, you may begin to see leakage of milk from the other side. This can be a sign that there is milk ready to be used which can give a mom a sense of relief whilst feeding.
However, be aware that leakage can happen anywhere at any time. Many mothers experience this and not much can be done to stop the leaking. However using nursing pads will help prevent your clothing from getting damp, especially in public.
Although this is an indication that you have breastmilk, there may be a stage where the leakage stops. This should not be a cause for concern as this can happen when your body adjusts to your baby’s feeding pattern.
As mentioned previously, the more you feed, the more you will produce a larger milk supply for your baby. Some babies are fed on ‘demand’ which means they only feed when they are hungry and you do not feed on a schedule. This may mean you feed less frequently which can mean your supply may diminish.
To avoid this, expressing after a feed can help stimulate your supply and continue to produce more milk. This will also allow you to have an emergency supply which can be used if a mom is unable to feed due to being sick or they have to go out and the baby needs to stay with a carer.
10 Avoid Supplementing
When breastfeeding, avoiding supplements will help promote breastmilk. When you start introducing formula feeds, water and/or juices for your baby, you will begin to find that your baby will not rely on your breastmilk. The less your baby feeds, the less milk you will produce as your brain will think that your baby does not need it anymore.
This is a mistake that many moms make thinking it will be a great way to keep them full between breastmilk feeds. However, it is a hindrance to your supply. Many women decide to formula feed as a top up, although this should be discussed with your health care professional as there are many ways to help promote and increase breastmilk supply rather than a supplement.
A baby that has had enough milk will be content after a feed. Babies that get enough breastmilk will also sleep between feeds. This means that they are full and not hungry for more. This is a great sign that you are producing enough milk for your little bundle of joy.
If they stay awake after their feed, they will be alert and not looking for breastmilk. If you find that your baby is crying and showing signs of hunger even when fed frequently, it is important to speak to a health care professional to ensure breastmilk is sufficient and there is no lack of supply due to other reasons, such as poor latching.
8 Healthy Color
Your baby’s colour is a great indication of your milk supply. If your baby looks healthy in colour, there may not be any cause for concern. However, if you feel that your baby has a yellowish tinge to their skin, this can be an indication of something more serious.
Known as ‘Breastfeeding Jaundice,' low supply of breastmilk can cause a baby’s skin to turn yellow. This should be taken seriously and your baby’s health care practitioner should be seen immediately. This is very common in breastfed babies, especially if they are not consuming enough milk. This can be a good indication that you do not have enough supply for your baby.
7 Enough Rest
According to What To Expect, "An exhausted underfed mom is not an efficient milk machine." I love this quote and it is something that all moms should remember whether or not they are breastfeeding. Not enough rest can lead to stress and anxiety which will not help promote good breastmilk supply.
Psychological issues can also interfere with producing enough breastmilk for your baby, hence it is important to look after yourself and take time out. If you are tired, rest is important. Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you need the energy and the right mindset to produce enough breastmilk for your little bundle of joy.
6 Eating Well
Ensuring that mom is looking after themselves during this time is extremely important. Your body needs to be well nourished to ensure it can produce the milk that is necessary to feed your baby.
According to Very Well Family, there are some super foods that can help boost breastmilk supply including, oatmeal, almonds, chickpeas, and dark leafy greens. It is important not to ignore your health during this time as you need to be at your optimum to produce adequate supplies.
Besides eating healthy, it is important to keep your fluids up and drink when thirsty. These simple tips can make all the difference and your diet can be an indication of a great milk supply.
5 Low Supply: Retained Placenta
After the delivery of your baby, some women experience retained placenta in their womb. This is a common reason why you may not have a good production of breastmilk. If you have fragments of placenta still lodged in your womb, you may have the following symptoms, such as fever, discharge, heavy bleeding or your baby is not feeding well.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help immediately. They will be able to determine if there is retained placenta. The quicker this is removed or passed, the quicker your milk supply can increase allowing you to feed your baby stress-free.
4 Low Supply: Medication
You may be surprised to learn that there are certain medications that can prevent your breastmilk supply. Medications such as the contraceptive pill or a decongestant that has pseudoephedrine can interfere with milk supply and production.
Along with taking medication, if you are sick or not eating and resting enough, this can also hinder your supply and make it difficult for your baby to get enough food to help them grown. A healthy mom that looks after herself and takes into consideration the medication consumed can be all the difference in increasing their milk supply and having enough for their baby.
3 Low Supply: Baby Not Feeding Enough
Long breaks in between feeds can prevent your milk supply from increasing as your body is being tricked to think that your baby does not need as much. It is important to feed regularly to help the increase of supply.
However, if your baby is content, it is best to express in-between to help promote stimulation. Not only do long breaks in-between feeds hinder milk supply, but short feeds may also hinder this. Do not stop your baby from feeding if they are still sucking. Always offer the second breast to ensure they have had enough, which will also promote your breastmilk supply.
2 Low Supply: Jaundice
Jaundice is a condition which a baby’s skin and eyes have a yellowish tinge. Jaundice is common in babies, especially breastfed babies. There are a few different types of jaundice to consider, including ‘Physiologic Jaundice’ and ‘Breastfeeding Jaundice’ and it is important to understand which one your baby has.
If your baby has ‘Breastfeeding Jaundice’ your baby is not getting enough breastmilk. This can help determine whether you have enough supply for your baby. However, according to the American Pregnancy Association, "Frequent and efficient feedings of breast milk are the best way to decrease jaundice." Not only frequent feeding will help decrease jaundice, but it will also help stimulate a greater supply which your baby will thank you for.
1 Low Supply: Pregnancy
According to Very Well Family, "If you become pregnant again while you're still breastfeeding, the hormones of a new pregnancy are known to cause a decrease in your milk supply". Unfortunately, this is one situation where you cannot increase your milk supply due to the hormones and changes your body is going through.
This may be one scenario where you may need to introduce a supplement if your baby is under twelve months old. Consider formula feeds to top your baby up, or if they are over twelve months old, they can get a lot of their nutrition through the solids they consume. If you are in this situation, it is best to speak to your obstetrician or health care provider to help you choose the best option for you and your baby.