Nothing is more stressful to a new mother than making sure her baby has everything they need, and this includes the right amount of food. We seem to believe that newborns need a lot of work, but when we break it down, they really only need so much. They need to be loved, to have their diaper changed, to be kept warm and to be fed. Being fed is one of the most important things a mother can do, and no matter how a mother chooses to feed her baby, it is important to make sure that they are eating enough.
If a mother has chosen to breastfeed, this becomes increasingly important. One of the benefits of bottle feeding is that there are little measurements on the side of the bottles that let parents know that just how much the baby is taking in. Unless a mom pumps, there is no for sure way for a mom to know how much breastmilk her baby is getting, or is there?
One would think the obvious solution to this problem would be to pump breastmilk and offer it to the baby in a bottle, but there are many reasons why this is not an option. Mom may not want to pump as she enjoys the closeness she feels when she has the baby at her breast. There are also a lot of women out there who do not respond well to breast pumps and can never seem to get anything out.
So, how do we help these women? These women who are breastfeeding and are constantly losing sleep because they are worrying about the amount of milk their little one is getting and if it is enough to help them grow strong. There are some key things to watch out for when breastfeeding that will help mom determine that the baby is getting enough milk, and we have collected them all in this convenient article. We have also included one GIANT myth that makes a lot of women believe their baby is getting enough milk.
15 Amount Of Feedings
The basis for a lot of these listings will be to let your baby be your guide. Let them tell you that they are getting enough milk or that they need a little bit more. They won’t be able to tell you with words, but there are a lot of signs to watch out for. The biggest thing to look out for is the number of feedings your baby has. This will be harder to track in the beginning but will settle down as the weeks go by. During the first day, it is normal for your baby to not feed that often, maybe even only 3 to 4 times, and that is because they are still in that sleepy newborn stage.
After those first few days pass, the feedings should increase to 6-8 feeds a day.
This is the number you want to aim for, this is the number that is appropriate for a breastfed baby and ensures that they are getting everything they need. There are times when they will want to nurse more frequently, and that is called cluster feeding and that means they are preparing for a growth spurt, not that they are not getting enough milk. They are sending a signal to your body to produce more milk soon because they will need it.
14 It Is (Relatively) Easy
The title to this one needed an edit because we know that breastfeeding is not easy. It is a hard journey that can drain a lot of woman. It is one of the leading reasons that women give up breastfeeding, and one will find no shame here because we understand just how hard breastfeeding can be. It can be painful in the beginning, and leave a lot of women cracked, bleeding and sore. That is because they are not used to being used in that way. Baby is also learning as well, and they need to learn how to latch and while they are learning it can cause some uncomfortableness.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and mom should reach a point where it is not so painful to breastfeed.
There will be moments when they bite down or whip their head around while they are still latched. For the most part, if breastfeeding feels comfortable and once your milk has let down you don’t feel any discomfort or pain when nursing it is a good indicator that you have enough milk and that your baby is satisfied.
13 How Is Your Supply?
Supply is everything when it comes to breastfeeding, and it is the main topic of this article, and if mom pays attention to her own body she will be able to tell if she has enough milk in there. It is not uncommon for it to take some time for their milk to come in after birth. That is normal.
For the first few days, your body will produce colostrum and that is all your baby needs in the beginning. Then after a few days, your milk will come in and you will know because you will probably have some wet spots on your shirt.
Once the milk comes in, there will be a period where your breasts are engorged and sore, and that is because they are learning. They are learning just how much milk they need to make. Once mom has nursed for a while, her breasts will work on a supply and demand schedule. The more the baby nurses, the more milk mom will make. She will reach a point where she will know it is time to nurse because her breasts will feel full. She will latch the baby on for a feed, and when the feed is over, her breasts will not feel as full anymore and she will be more comfortable. If this is happening to you, that means that your body is producing enough milk and your baby is definitely drinking enough.
12 Colour Is Everything
Like we stated earlier, all mom needs to do is look to her baby to tell if he is getting enough milk. The baby will tell you a lot without actually saying any words. While we spend a lot of time looking at our babies, we don’t often focus on their skin tone and colour. This is a mistake when trying to decide if they are getting enough milk because it will directly reflect the nourishment he is getting.
If the baby looks like he is a healthy colour and has firm skin that bounces back if you poke it or pinch it gently than they are healthy, and they are getting all the food they need.
Now, we are not saying to go around pinching breastfed babies to make sure they are getting enough milk. Even just a quick glance can tell you that their healthy skin glow is due to the proper amount of milk. If you are worried that you won’t be able to tell if something is off with the colour, don’t worry. Chances are you will. They should not have a yellow or blue-purple tone to their skin. If they do, it is warrant for an immediate visit to the doctor.
11 How Alert Is Your Baby?
Alertness is a tricky thing when it comes to newborns, they are natural sleepers and they sleep for most of the day. They have small windows of time when they are awake until they are back asleep. How is the baby in these brief moments of wakefulness? If they are getting enough milk, they should be fully alert. Even if they are only awake for a half an hour, they should be alert within that time. They should also readily ask for feeds. They should be initiating more of the nursing sessions than you are.
If you find yourself forcing your baby awake to nurse, it may mean that they have not been getting enough milk and have become quite lethargic.
As the baby gets older, they start to stay awake for longer periods of time. This is when it becomes easier to tell if they are alert. As they age, they start to become more interested in the world around them. They have a natural instinct to explore and want to touch and taste the world around them. If your older baby is breastfed and not naturally curious, than it could be a sign that they are not getting enough calories to give them that energy. It is much like an adult who doesn’t eat for a while, they become weak and disinterested as well.
10 It Is All In The Diaper
Here is the winner, here is the number one way to determine if your baby is getting enough milk. What goes in must come out and the amount of urine-soaked diapers can tell you all that you need to know about the milk intake. Like we stated earlier, the first few days with a newborn are not going to tell you too much because they are very sleepy, and their stomach is only the size of a marble, so they are not taking in too much colostrum. In the first 48 hours, they should have about 2 to 3 wet diapers and that is considered completely normal.
What you really need to watch is the amount of wet diapers they have once your milk has come in.
Once your little one reaches 5 days old he should have at least 6 wet diapers every 24 hours.
He may have more and that is OK, you want him to have at least 6. You also want to watch out for the colour and smell of his urine. It should be a pale/clear colour and have no smell to it. Just as when we are dehydrated our urine becomes darker in colour and it has a strong ammonia smell, indicating to us that we need to drink more water.
9 Watch For The Swallow
Since it is so hard to take our eyes of our babies anyways, it is always a good idea to watch them while they nurse. There are certain motions your baby should be doing when you are breastfeeding that will indicate to you that the flow is right and that he is definitely drinking in enough milk.
You should be able to clearly see your little one swallowing, if there is no milk, they would not swallow.
This motion should alert you that he is getting milk and he is swallowing it.
If you are unsure what to look for in terms of what it looks like when a little baby swallows while on the breast, then now is the time to do some research. If you are currently expecting and you are reading this in preparation for breastfeeding, watch some YouTube videos of a baby nursing. If you can find one that is lead by a lactation specialist, they should be able to walk you through what to look for when a baby swallows. Even just watching another baby feed from a mom with a well-established supply can help prepare you for what to look out for.
8 Let The Baby Take Control
It can’t be said enough to let your baby take control. Let them take the lead and watch for the cues they are giving out that everything is A-OK! Along with swallowing there are other things your baby should do that will be good indicators that they are getting enough milk. They should be pausing during the feeding, and a lot of woman mistake this for the baby not getting enough milk.
The baby may pause during nursing for two reasons; he needs a little break, or he needs to catch his breath.
It is the same as if you were drinking a big glass of water fast, you may need to pause halfway through to get a little breath in.
The baby should also lead the nursing session themselves. They should be the one to initiate the feed and end it on their own. If they are happy and calm to end the nursing session, then you can remain confident that they received all the milk they need. What you don’t want to see is a baby who is always fussy at the breast. A baby who is acting as if he is frustrated and angry that he can not get any milk.
7 We Have To Talk About #2!
We talked about the baby's #1, so it is only fair that we talk about baby #2. It is one of the most unpleasant parts about having a baby, but it is another great way to make sure that they are getting all the nutrients and milk that they require. It seems silly that a baby who is only on liquids would be able to produce #2, but they do. Their first #2 is called meconium and it is a black-tar like substance. This is made up of amniotic fluid, skin cells and other things that the baby digests while in the womb. Luckily, this only lasts for the first day.
Once your baby is 5 days old, he should be producing normal, breastfed baby #2. Due to them being on a liquid only diet, their #2 will be the same consistency. They will be a yellow-mustard colour and have a seedy texture. It will probably look like there are sesame seeds in there. Now, before you worry that someone gave your baby a bagel when you weren’t looking, this is normal. This is to be expected with breastfed babies, and to be honest this is the best kind of #2. Once your baby starts solid foods it is a whole other ball game.
6 Knowing How It Usually Looks/Feels Helps
How well do we really know our own bodies? Would we know if something had changed, even slightly? Once someone has read this, it may shock them to realize that they don’t really know a whole lot about their own body but knowing about your own body can help you determine how your body is producing milk. You must look no further than where the milk exits from. Where the baby latches can tell her a lot about how a feeding went.
We have stated earlier that sore and bleeding where the baby latches can indicate that the baby is not latching properly, and it is important to bring it up to your doctor because this could indicate a tongue or lip tie that is easily corrected. Some help from a lactation specialist can also help mom and baby get a good latch. When you are done a feed, if it looks the same as it did before the feed began you can remain confident the feeding went fine. If it is slightly elongated, or stretched, it is also apparent that the baby was actively sucking. A baby would not actively suck if there was not milk being produced.
5 The Baby's Size Is A Good Signal
Nothing has more of mom’s attention than weight gain checks. It can cause a lot of worry and stress for a new mom whenever she gets her baby weighed. If she is breastfeeding she may take it very seriously and personally if her baby is not gaining weight as the doctors say they would. Weight gain is a grey area, because babies grow at their own rate, and no two babies will grow the same way. When your baby is born it is to be expected that they will lose 10% of their body weight, but by day 10, your baby should be back at his birth weight.
Weight gain is not the clearest indicator that there is milk supply, but it is often what a doctor would use to tell if there was a problem.
If the baby is not gaining weight as they should be or is suddenly losing weight it will indicate that he is not getting enough breastmilk.
A good doctor will either send you to a lactation specialist to look into it further or may get you to supplement with formula. If your baby is gaining weight steadily, there is no reason to believe that he is not getting enough milk from mom.
4 How Is The Baby Between Feedings?
We have talked a lot about how the baby is responding while feeding, but we need to address how the baby acts in between feedings.
A baby who is well-fed should be relatively calm and satisfied between feedings.
A newborn will more than likely fall asleep on the breast or soon after a feeding, and that should send signals to mom that her milk was sufficient and that there is nothing to worry about. If mom must end the feeding because it has been a long period of time, and the baby responds by being extremely irritated and fussy it could mean one of two things. He is either going through a growth spurt and needs more, or he didn’t get enough in the first place.
The difference between a growth spurt and an insufficient milk supply is that a growth spurt will only last a couple of days. If you notice this behaviour is going on for longer than you are comfortable with it would be a great idea to bring it up to the baby’s doctor to rule out colic or any other feeding issue. If baby is happy, sleeping and stays satisfied between feeds than that gives mom the green light and tells her everything is OK.
3 Is There Leakage?
There is nothing more embarrassing than a milk leakage. Especially if it is in public and mom forgot to put on nursing pads before she left the house. It screams to the world that you are a breastfeeding mother. That in itself is probably a good indicator that you are producing enough milk, but you also want to look for leakage while you are feeding the baby. When your little one is latched on, pay close attention to his mouth.
You may see a few drops of milk leaking from the side of his mouth and this tells you that there is more than enough coming out of there.
This added with the sound and sight of your baby sucking and swallowing are the best indicators you are going to have. The best feeling will be when your little on drifts off to sleep while nursing, it leaves mom with a calm and assured feeling that she is providing all she needs for her little one. There may be moments when your little one coughs and chokes while at the breast, and this means that there is a letdown and the milk is coming in fast and furious and the poor guy just can’t keep up with the flow. Another good sign that there is enough milk!
2 Lactation Consultant Tells You So! (Just Believe Them)
There are these wonderful people out there who have made a career out of helping women breastfeed their children. These are lactation consultants/specialists. These women are here to help mom and baby learn to latch and they are also there to make sure that mom is making enough milk.
They will go through a process of weighing your baby before a feed, having them feed and then weighing them at intervals. They can tell by how much milk your baby is taking in and if it is enough.
Seems simple enough, however, women tend to second guess everything when it comes to parenting. They will second guess the lactation specialists, and this is a big mistake. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, believe what they are saying and keep on doing what you are doing. If they tell you that everything is fine, it is. Not a lot of people know breastfeeding better than them, they are the experts! A lot of the time breastfeeding relationships fail because women do not know about these resources that are out there for them. If you are an expecting mom who plans on breastfeeding, find your local specialist now and put them in your speed dial!
1 DO NOT TRUST It If Your Baby Is Sleeping Through The Night!
Sometimes there are things that happen that make us think our babies are getting enough milk, but they aren’t. There are signs we would just assume mean that the baby is well fed and satisfied so we never question it. I feel it is important to address a big one in this article. If you are a mom to a breastfed baby and they start sleeping through the night, this does not automatically mean that they are getting enough milk.
This is especially true if we are referring to a baby who is very young, think about 10 days old. If a 10-day old newborn is sleeping through the night, he may not be getting enough milk.
A baby who is too sleepy or can not be awakened for food may be a baby who is lethargic and can not find the energy to wake up and eat more, even though they desperately need it. This doesn’t automatically mean that your good sleeper is starving.
If your baby is showing the signs that we talked about earlier in this article and sleeping through the night, then you are probably a very lucky mom who got a great sleeper! It still wouldn’t hurt to bring it up to the doctor though, just to be on the safe side.