How can I tell if my baby is receiving enough milk?
This may be the most asked question for our midwives at the New York Birthing Center. It is completely understandable, since it’s often difficult to assess how full the breasts are, as they are neither see-through or marked off in ounces. There are, however, other signs that indicate you are ready with enough milk to supply to your newborn.
Once mother’s milk comes in, which usually begins on the third or fourth day post birth, the baby should begin to have between 6-8 wet cloth diapers (5-6 wet disposable diapers) per day.
In addition, most newborns will produce two to five bowel movements every 24 hours for the first several months. Some babies will then switch to less frequent but larger bowel movements at or about 6 weeks.
A baby that is sleeping rather than feeding every 2-3 hours or is generally lethargic may need to be assessed by a health care provider or physician to make sure that he or she is adequately hydrated.
These are additional important signs that indicate your baby is receiving enough milk:
- The baby nurses frequently averaging at least 8-12 feedings per 24-hour period.
- The baby is allowed to determine the length of the feeding, which may be 10 to 20 minutes per breast or longer.
- Baby’s swallowing sounds are audible as he is breastfeeding.
- The baby should gain at least 4-7 ounces per week after the fourth day of life.
- The baby will be alert and active, appear healthy, have good color, firm skin, and will be growing in length and head circumference.
The physical act of breastfeeding is more than the quantity of milk that is supplied, as you will find once you hold your baby in your arms. Breastfeeding is warmth, nutrition, and mother’s love all rolled into one. Understanding and appreciating the signs of knowing when your baby is getting enough to eat is the one of the most important things a new mother can learn. If you have any concerns regarding your baby, they should be addressed with your health care practitioner.
If you find you do need to increase your milk supply, after keeping track of wet diapers, bowel movements and weight gain, there are several options you can try to increase your milk supply. Keep in touch with your physician or health care provider if your baby is not gaining well, or is losing weight. In most cases, patient education and changes in breastfeeding techniques will quickly resolve the situation, however on occasion weight gain may indicate a health problem.