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 at least 6 wet diapers and 3 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.

40 thoughts on “Is My Baby Getting Enough Breastmilk?

  1. My daughter is 9 months old and still breastfeeding. But I feel like I’m not making enough. And she bfs for about 5 mins and I feel the let down but after that I feel like there isn’t anything coming out but she still suckles for awhile after let down. What should I do? Is this normal?

    • Hi Heather,

      First – great job breastfeeding for 9 months! As long as your baby is gaining weight well and having enough wet and dirty diapers, then she is getting enough breastmilk. Some babies are very efficient at removing milk from the breast, and the length of your nursing sessions isn’t the best indicator that she is getting enough. Here is even more information on how to tell if you really have low supply or not: http://bit.ly/1BWEUp6

      Hope this helps, keep up the awesome work!
      Kathy

        • Hi Ray – 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. If you have any concerns, our Lactation Consultant should be able to help: https://bitly.com/askthelc. Hope this helps!

  2. Love my medela pump for work!

    My 5 month old eats 6 times a day and 3 feedings are expressed milk while I’m at work. How do I know if I should increase the amount in her bottles? She’s at 5.5-6 oz in each now. Her caregiver feels she needs more but, I thought BF babies typically plateaued with oz needed.

    Also my left breast makes much less milk when pumping. Anyway to increase just one breast without harming the rights supply? Or is it normal?

  3. My daughter is 6.5 mo old. I have only ever been able to pump 3 oz at a time (every three hrs) when I do pump which is not consistent. I nurse bluer every three hrs. Or whenever she’s hungry. She’s always happy and content but at her 6 mo visit she was only 10lbs 13 oz. she had only gained 2 oz in a month. My dr is a breastfeeding advocate and he doesn’t seemed concerned but I want other opinions. I realize my baby is more efficient than a pump but there’s no way he’s getting 4-5 more oz than the pump. Her latch seems fine, she eats tulip she’s content but I just don’t think she’s getting enough. I don’t think she’s even getting 20 oz a day. I don’t want to give up but I’m not sure what to do. I’ve never had an increase since the day my milk came in. I just don’t know if Ivan continue nursing for 6 more months when she’s only getting around 3 oz each feeding bland as I’ve given her solids she’s eating even less. I pumped after 6 hrs (she was asleep) and only got 3 oz!

    • Hi Macy,

      First off, know that the average breastfeeding mom can pump between one and three oz. per pumping session (not per breast, per session). Don’t worry, you’re doing a great job and there are several measures that moms can take to increase breastmilk supply. Here’s a link to our blog with various tips to help increase supply: http://bit.ly/187ZXnw. This article from KellyMom is also a good resource for learning more about what to expect when pumping: http://bit.ly/1b2ohy6. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact our Lactation Consultant: http://bit.ly/ask_lc. Keep up the good work!

      • this was also my concern i work 8 hours and take home with me 7 oz only 🙁 i see some moms pumping 5 oz per breast per session.

        • Hi Guadalupe – Don’t worry, it sounds like you’re doing a great job! First off, know that the average breastfeeding mom can pump between one and three oz. per pumping session (not per breast, per session). Remember that when you return to work, your goal is simply to stay one day ahead of your baby’s needs. Here’s a link to our blog with various tips to help increase supply: http://bit.ly/187ZXnw. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact our Lactation Consultant: http://bit.ly/ask_lc. Keep up the good work!

    • I have been nursing pumping and supplementing, you are doing a great job !! My boy turns 9 months this weekend and i am trying to give him as much breastmilk as posisble!!! I’ve done everything possible to increase supply. Dont give up you can do both if you have to! Good luck

    • Hi, I just took my daughter in and she weighs 11 lb 10 oz, hasn’t doubled her birth weight and is in the 1st percentile for weight and only gained 1 pound since her 4 month appointment. I’m also concerned she’s not getting enough at the breast. At bed time she refuses the breast and has a 4-6 oz bottle (either of formula or expressed milk since it takes 2-3 days to get enough for one bottle). I don’t know what to do. I want to continue to breastfeed until she’s a year, both for the expense of formula as well as the bonding time we get together.

    • I have the same exactl story as you do. To the T, only my baby is 2 months. I go back to work in a week and a half and it worries me even more. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one feeling this way. I hope things have improved for you.

  4. I think that it sounds like a great idea. However, I think you shloud nurse your baby exclusively for 3-4 weeks, then introduce a bottle. My son got a bottle for the first time at 4 weeks and now at 8 months is a pro at both. If you can exclusively nurse for the first few weeks, you shloudn’t have any problem. If it works for you to pump and its more convenient, then that’s good too! I think its great you want your baby to have the best!

    • Hi Analu – 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. Here’s more information about how much your little one consumes per meal: http://bit.ly/18In1eO.

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