One of the biggest concerns that new mothers have is this: ‘Is my Baby getting enough breast milk?”. This concern is the most common reason for starting formula supplementation, and also for early weaning.
You can be assured that nearly all mothers can produce an adequate supply of breast milk for their infant. The human race would not have survived for millions of years if this was not the case! There is a very small percentage of women who just ‘don’t have enough milk’, but this is highly unusual, and is most often connected to some sort of medical problem, (for example, breast reduction surgery, maternal medications such as birth control pills, or maternal hypothyroidism). Many of these medical problems can be corrected.
How do I know if my Baby is getting enough Breast Milk?
For mothers who still worry: don’t!! It’s quite likely that your baby is getting enough milk, and the good news is that there are many signs that help to put your mind at ease.
Typically during the first few days, while the baby is receiving the mother’s thick, immunity-boosting colostrum, he will wet only one or two diapers per day. Once the mother’s milk comes in, usually on the third or fourth day, the baby should begin to have 6-8 wet cloth diapers (5-6 wet disposable diapers) per day.
The more milk the baby gets in the first few days, the sooner his bowel moments change color from dark green, black and sticky to yellow/mustard. In addition, most young babies will have at least two to five bowel movements every 24 hours for the first several months, although some babies will switch to less frequent but larger bowel movements at about 6 weeks.
A good and consistent weight gain is an indication that the baby is getting enough to eat. (Please remember that a newborn will lose weight after birth and go back to his birth weight at ten days of age). Normal weight gain is around 30grams for the first month and 15 grams for the next six months.
Here are some more 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 and should have the open wide-pause-close mouth type of sucking
- The baby will be alert and active, appear healthy, have good color, firm skin, and will be growing in length and head circumference.
The following are NOT good ways of judging if your baby is getting enough breast milk:
- Your breasts do not feel full.
- The baby sleeps through the night.
- The baby cries after feeding. The baby feeds often and/or for a long time
- You can express only a little milk
- The baby will take a bottle after feeding.
- The five week old is suddenly pulling away from the breast but still seems hungry.
In case you still feel that your baby isn’t getting enough milk, you can always consult your pediatrician who’ll be able to put your doubts at rest. Please do not go by what random people say about your baby’s feeding; trust your doctor and your instincts!! Getting stressed about your milk supply will not only reduce the production of milk but the stress will also get to your baby. So relax and stay calm; you and your baby both deserve it!!
Mrs. Anupama Kumar, B.E., CCCE., CPFE, is an internationally certified childbirth and pregnancy fitness trainer. She is also a trained lactation counselor. Anupama’s own pregnancy motivated her to create “VRIKSHAM”, an organization keen on providing antenatal education to pregnant women.