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7 Ways to Know Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

Breastfeeding mothers often wonder if their babies will receive enough milk that will enable them to grow and thrive. It's an important concern, especially for new mothers who have never breastfed. While ensuring your baby gets enough nutrition from breastfeeding may seem worrisome, there are telltale signs to ensure your child is getting enough.

Knowing how much breast milk you will need, how babies feed, and the signs of good nourishment will help you keep your baby healthy and happy. Here are 7 tips to ensure your baby is well-fed.

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7 Will There Be Enough Milk?

Usually, your breast milk will be abundant for your baby's needs. Your baby will regulate how much milk is produced during nursing. There are exceptions. Breast milk production may be affected by breast reduction surgery and nipple piercing. Breast reduction surgery and nipple piercing can injure the milk ducts and other parts of the breasts that are necessary for nursing.

Medications can also reduce your supply. Aside from these issues, you shouldn't run out of milk. Just make sure to eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, get a good night's sleep, and nurse frequently.

The quality and quantity of breast milk will adjust to the baby while he or she is nursing. Milk removal and replenishment are controlled by the baby's appetite. When your baby feeds, he or she will stimulate your body to make more milk.

Demand-driven feeding ensures that you will produce enough milk, and your baby will get enough food to grow. Babies have stomachs that are only the size of walnuts. As a result, they need to constantly fill up with and process breast milk to thrive and grow.

6 Nursing Your Baby

To make sure your baby is getting enough milk, ensure your baby is latching on correctly. A baby who latches on improperly will be unable to get the necessary milk he or she needs.

There are two parts of the breast that are critical to nursing: the nipple and the areola. The nipple sits atop the areola and has holes that provide an outlet for the milk ducts. The areola contains the milk ducts. It is important that your baby latches on to both. The milk won't squeeze through the nipple without the baby’s mouth pressing down on the areola to pump milk through the nipple.

When latching your baby, hold your breast with your free hand and put your thumb above your nipple. Your index finger should be where your baby's chin will rest. Gently compress your breast so it will fit your baby's mouth. Stroke your baby’s cheek to stimulate the sucking reflex. The baby's mouth should be open wide. Bring your baby to the breast and make sure the baby's mouth covers the nipple and the areola. 

The baby's chin and the tip of the nose should touch your breast. Let the baby feed until the breast is empty. Do this for both breasts.

Sometimes babies have special nursing issues, such as a cleft palate or cleft lips. These are conditions where the baby's mouth is not fully developed at birth. In this case, the baby may not be able to latch and suck adequately. You may need to reposition your child so he or she can latch on correctly. Consult a lactation specialist if problems persist.

5 How Often Should Babies Nurse?

A newborn should nurse at least eight times in 24 hours. Many newborns nurse 10 to 13 times per day or more. These are long feedings, as well as snacks. You may need to wake up your baby for a feeding. In the first or two, newborns will not always demand to be fed. This is true for premature, jaundiced, or sick babies who are too small or sleepy to cry. Premature babies need to conserve energy for growth.

Wake up your baby if he or she sleeps longer than three to four hours. Continue to monitor ill or premature babies closely to make sure they gain enough weight. Regular feedings should always be offered by demand, not according to a schedule.

4 Weight Gain

Nursing is the best way to feed your baby. A big worry of breastfeeding mothers is whether their babies are gaining enough weight. It is normal for newborns to lose 5% to 7% of body weight during the first couple of days. This is especially true if you had intravenous fluids during the last six hours of labor, and your baby needs to offload the extra fluid. Your baby has been floating in an amniotic sac and needs to get rid of this extra liquid. 

This should take one or two days. During this time, doctors do not become concerned until weight loss approaches 10%. On average, your baby will lose about half a pound. From there, your baby should steadily gain weight and regain his or her birth weight after 10 to 14 days. Babies gain an average of one to two pounds per month in the first six months to a year. 

They usually grow in length about an inch a month during the first six months. From six months to age one, babies grow about half an inch every month. Weight gain depends on the frequency of feedings. Your baby will grow faster if you respond to your baby when he or she cries. Feeding on these cues with unrestricted feedings will keep your baby adequately hydrated. Infants who co-sleep or sleep near their mothers that have unrestricted night nursing will grow faster.

Babies who are the product of baby training will have a different experience. With parent-imposed feeding schedules, babies will show less weight gain. A parent-imposed feeding interferes with the natural mechanism of milk production and can lead to complications like mastitis, a bacterial infection of the breasts. Newborns who are forced to sleep through the night are at risk of being undernourished and have more developmental delays.

3 Differences in Weight Gain

Babies can show differences in weight depending on metabolic type. Long and lean babies, called banana babies, burn off calories faster than plumper or what are called apple babiesand pear babies. Banana babies grow quicker in height than weight. Normally, they chart above average in height and below average in weight. Apple and pear babies show weight gain faster than height.

Temperament is important. Relaxed babies burn fewer calories and gain weight faster than active babies. Active babies burn more calories and tend to be leaner. Weight gain differs between breastfed babies and formula-fed babies. Formula-fed babies gain weight faster, but formula-fed babies do not get a high quality of nutrients that breastfed babies receive with nursing. Furthermore, breastfed babies have the ability to self-regulate calorie intake and are less likely to be obese later in childhood.

2 Check Diapers

Your baby's diapers will provide a rough indication if your baby is getting enough to eat. During the first day or two after birth, breastfed babies consume colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk a baby takes from your breasts. This early milk is a pale, yellow milk. It contains antibodies, such as white blood cells that offer an infant the first protection against disease. Colostrum is high in protein, minerals, vitamin A, and nitrogen.

In the first couple of days, babies typically have one to two wet diapers and stools when they are nursing on colostrum. Signs of effective breastfeeding are at least three stools per day after the first day, and at least, six wet diapers per day after the fourth day. The quality of your baby's stools and urine is important too. The baby’s first stool is called meconium. 

This stool is the waste product the baby accumulated inside of the uterus. Meconium is usually a greenish-black, tarry-colored, soft stool. The color will change to a greenish stool after one or two days. After that, babies start to have at least three to five bowel movements per day. These stools are loose and bright yellow, often with a seedy texture. After five weeks, babies will have less frequent but larger bowel movements.

Once your baby moves on to solids, their poop takes on a new consistency

A wet diaper is an essential sign of a baby having an adequate milk intake. During your baby's first couple of days, he or she will probably wet only once or twice a day, since he or she is only receiving small amounts of colostrum. Your baby should wet six to eight times per day.

During the first 24 to 48 hours of life, the color of the urine is dark or reddish because of a buildup of uric acid crystals. Also known as brick dustcrystals, it is concentrated urine. This isn't unusual because the baby is only taking in small amounts of colostrum. Once your milk comes in,your baby should have enough fluid to make the urine clear. 

If your baby is four to five days old and still producing reddish urine, she or he may not be getting enough milk and it is essential you see your doctor about your baby's condition.

1 When to Call the Doctor

When you are breastfeeding, watch for signs. If your baby is not getting enough to eat and is not being sufficiently hydrated, you will notice certain symptoms. Dry diapers and hard stools are useful as a measure of whether your baby is not getting enough to eat. These are not the only signs that you should look for to make sure your baby is healthy.

Diaper checks are not a substitute for regular weight and height checkups. It is essential to checking for growth in head circumference. Other common signs of not getting enough milk are a less alert baby. Also, pay attention is your baby has a weak cry, or a fever.

Never feel like you're bothering your pediatrician with your questions

If your child has a dry mouth and eyes and cannot cry, check with your doctor as soon as possible. Check to see if the fontanelles (soft spots) on the top of your baby's head are sunken in or depressed. The fontanellesare the soft membranes over the skull that allow your baby's brain to have room to grow. Eventually, they turn into bone to keep the child's brain safe. Fontanelles need fluid to make an effective cushion. Depressed spots are signs of dehydration.

Your baby's skin will lose its resilience if she or he does not have enough milk. Gently touch your baby's skin. It should bounce back easily into its normal, plump curve. Being aware of all of these warning signs can help you to be a confident and successful nursing mother.

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