If you are breastfeeding, you might often be concerned with how much milk your baby is actually getting at the breast. After all, you can’t measure it or see it like you can if you pump and give a bottle. So, how can you feel confident and know your baby is in fact getting enough milk?
Signs that your baby is getting enough milk at the breast:
1. Your baby is eating frequently, at least 8-12 times a day or even more in those early days. In the first few weeks it’s really important that your baby eats frequently. Your first milk, or colostrum, is only made in small quantities so this frequent feeding is vital not only for your baby to get milk but for you to stimulate your milk production. Older babies may become more efficient at the breast, and therefore eat quicker or consolidate feeds. This isn’t true for all babies and really depends on a variety of factors. Generally breastfed babies will continue to eat every few hours during those first 6 months.
2. Baby acts content and relaxed after feeding. Many babies will come off the breast and be very drowsy or asleep after they get enough milk. You may also notice their body and hands become very relaxed when they are full and content. If your baby falls asleep quickly when eating and then is hungry a short time later it may indicate they are not getting a full feed.
3. They regain their birth weight by day 14 and then gain about an ounce a day until about 4 months. Those early days you will be following up with your healthcare provider often in order for them to keep an eye on your baby and their weight gain. If you are working with a lactation consultant they can weigh your baby before and after a feed and tell you how much milk they took!
4. You can hear your baby swallowing at the breast. Watch your baby as they suckle. Is it a fast movement or do you see periods where their jaw is dropping more slowly as they swallow? Your baby will have periods of nutritive and non-nutritive suckling at the breast. Listen for a ‘kah’ sound that they make as they swallow.
5. They have plenty of wet and dirty diapers each day. At about 4 days of life your baby should be stooling at least 4x a day (should be larger than a quarter) and have 6 or more wet diapers each day (about 4 tablespoons).
Breastfed baby stool has a milk odor and is typically yellow and seedy looking and has a soft and loose consistency.
6. Your breasts feel less full when your baby is done breastfeeding. If you are still early postpartum you should feel some softening of your breasts after your baby is done feeding. Over the first several weeks, your body will adjust to the amount of milk your baby needs, so engorgement and the very full feeling between feeds will lessen. This does not necessarily mean you aren’t making enough milk.
If at any time you are concerned or not sure your baby is getting enough milk it is always best to consult with your pediatrician or lactation consultant. Over time you will learn to recognize the signs that your body is making enough milk and that your baby is full!
Written by Nicole Schwartz