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.

18 thoughts on “Is My Baby Getting Enough Breastmilk?

  1. My little guy will often dramatically unlatch and rest his head on my chest and snuggle in, then sometimes he just passes out…. Either way his jaw goes slack enough to remove my nipple and get situated.

    • Hi Kelley,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like your little one is great at snuggling! Enjoy those precious moments + keep up the great work.

      Kathy

  2. I worried about my supply early on because my LO had 11% weight loss after he was born. I was schedule feeding…after that, I fed on demand. Anytime he showed hunger cues, I latched him, even if was just using me as a paci. By the time he was 2 weeks he had gained almost 2 whole pounds! I went back to work when he was 16 weeks and my next concern was pumping. I always feel like I’m not getting enough. At 22 weeks I still only get a couple onces from each breast. I’ve noticed that he goes longer periods now without nursing or taking an expressed bottle…and he’s not even eating solids yet.

    • Hi Nichole,

      Feeding on demand is a great way to establish your supply and get into a good breastfeeding routine. Please know that babies are much more efficient at removing milk from the breast than a breastpump is, and how much you pump is not an accurate indicator of how much milk you’re making. The average mother can express between 1 and 3 oz. per pumping session (not per breast, per session). Here is more information on what to expect when pumping: http://bit.ly/1oCLgji

      If you have any questions, our Lactation Consultant would be happy to help you: http://bit.ly/1pqwQa3

      Keep up the great work, mama! You got this.
      Kathy

  3. My daughter is 8wks and very fussy from her occasional gas pains that it will affect her desire to nurse. She will get hungry AND furious from what my husband calls her “bubble guts” all at the same time that she won’t nurse. (Maybe laying down on her side to nurse makes her more uncomfortable during these episodes?). I end up having to feed her expressed milk from a bottle to help calm her down on these occasions. The doctor says she’s fine and perfectly healthy–that these are typical gas pains for a baby her age. But I MUCH prefer nursing her rather than bottle feeding when I can! I just have to catch her when she’s calm and gas-free. :-)

    • Sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with a gassy baby. Hang in there – you’re doing a wonderful job of providing your baby with breastmilk and should be so proud of yourself!

      Kathy

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