Is My Baby Getting Enough Breastmilk?

January 31, 2012

Many breastfeeding moms wonder if their baby is getting enough breastmilk. Of course it’s a common concern, because every mom wants to ensure their little one is getting the nourishment they need. Don’t worry. There are many ways to determine if your baby is getting enough breastmilk.

Is your baby breastfeeding frequently?

In general, a baby should nurse 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period for the first few days to weeks. Doing so will ensure proper nourishment and also help to maintain your supply. If you pump, you can monitor feedings from the measurements on each breastmilk bottle. In general, babies between 1 – 6 months of age normally drink an average of 19 – 30 ounces per day. An average size meal for a baby is between 3 – 5 ounces of breastmilk. If you’re solely breastfeeding, this may be difficult to measure. Just ensure your little one is having frequent wet diapers and gaining weight appropriately.

Do you or your baby determine the length of feedings?

It’s best to let your baby determine when a feeding is over. That way you can avoid ending a feeding before your baby feels full. Your baby will either come off the breast or fall asleep when they are finished. Also, pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues. If your baby is fidgety, fussy, or just reaching for your chest, it may be time to feed again.

How much weight is your baby gaining?

By 10-14 days after birth, your baby should recover any lost birth weight. Then, you can follow these general baby growth guidelines for the first year.

  • Month 1: Gain 5 to 10 ounces per week
  • Months 2 – 3: Gain 5 to 8 ounces per week
  • Months 3 – 6: Gain 2.5 to 4.5 ounces per week
  • Months 6 – 12: Gain 1 to 3 ounces per week

How does your baby look and act?

In general, if your baby is receiving enough breastmilk they should look outwardly healthy. They should be active, alert and content. A happy baby is most likely not a hungry baby. After feedings, your baby should appear content and relaxed. If your baby is lethargic, sleepy and seems uninterested in feeding, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider.

How many wet and dirty diapers is your little one having each day?

Look for your little one to have 4 – 6 wet diapers and 3 – 4 yellow stools  per day by the fifth day after birth. This pattern generally continues for the first 6 months. Then, as they get older they may switch to an infrequent stool pattern, having less than one soiled diaper per day. Stool patterns in older babies can vary considerably, so focus more on a healthy weight gain than the number of stools.

Are you hearing your little one swallow during feedings?

While feeding, you should be able to hear you little one swallowing as milk flows. Then, after feedings you may notice that your breasts feel less “full.”

Moms, how did you know your little one is getting enough breastmilk? Share your tips in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “Is My Baby Getting Enough Breastmilk?

  1. My little muppin would unlatch and turn her head away. She would refuse if I offered the other breast, which I would do even if she nursed on both sides, just to make sure she was full. Now at seven months she is so active and nosey that when she stops nursing I have to give her a minute to make sure she really is full and not just distracted.

  2. My little one would eat all night if he could! Is it normal for babies to not stop nursing? If he eats for more than 10-15 minutes he will spit up a lot which makes me think he is full but I always have to be the one to stop the nursing session or else i would never get anything done!

    • Hi Sarah, babies experience lots of growth spurts that can have an effect on how often they feed. Please feel free to reach out to our Lactation Consultant, she would be happy to help you with your questions: http://bit.ly/120q9Rp -Kathy

  3. I notice in his hands, he keeps a fist or acts as if his squeezing milk out(perhaps as comfort) and usually 8-15 minutes he rests his hand flat on my breast, falls asleep or turns away to look at his surroundings. Sometimes when I think he’s hungry, he will bite and tug while fussing. That’s when I know his teeth/gums are bothering him. Pop a teething tablet, nurse him to sleep. And he’s a happy baby when he wakes up! :)

  4. My daughter turns her head and puts her side of her face on my breast when she’s done. At night I lay her down w me to latch her on and I’ve noticed that she likes to suck very softly and puts her hand on my breast when she’s done. For some reason she likes to always feel me during the night if I put her in her crib she will wake up right away but during the day I always have her in her crib and she’s fine. I wonder why?

    • Hi Frances,

      Breastfeeding doesn’t just nourish babies, but it provides incredible emotional security and comfort, too. Your daughter is enjoying being close to her mom and is comforted by your presence. What a beautiful bond you have – enjoy those little snuggles! You’re doing a wonderful job.

      Kathy

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