It’s totally common for a new mom to doubt her breastmilk supply and question whether she’s making enough milk to satisfy her little one. But, even though your breasts might only produce a few drops of colostrum (“first milk”) in the days after you give birth, that breastmilk is the perfect nutrition for your baby. Colostrum is nutrient-rich and contains a high concentration of antibodies while helping to gently clear baby’s intestine. Understanding how milk production works – and what your baby really needs – can help give peace of mind in the early days. If you’re not sure that baby is getting enough, you can ask yourself these questions:
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. Breastfeeding frequently will also help you establish and maintain your supply because your breasts produce milk on a supply-and-demand basis.
Does your baby determine the length of feedings?
It’s best to let your baby determine when a feeding is over and avoid ending a feeding before they are finished. Your baby will either come off the breast or fall asleep when they’re done eating. Also, pay attention to your baby’s hunger cues.
How much weight is your baby gaining?
By 10-14 days after birth, your baby should recover any lost birth weight. Then, for the first 4 months of a baby’s life, average weight gain is about 5-7 ounces per week. If baby is growing normally, you can be confident that your supply is providing your baby with the nutrition they need.
How does your baby look and act?
In general, if your baby is receiving enough breastmilk they should look outwardly healthy and be active, alert and content.
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 about day five after birth. This pattern generally continues for the first 6 months.
Are you hearing swallows during feedings?
While feeding, you should be able to hear your little one swallowing as your milk flows.
You might question whether baby is removing enough milk from your breasts – but your milk supply changes to meet your baby’s needs and their tiny stomach can’t hold large amounts of breastmilk yet.
In fact, here are some general ranges for full-term infant stomach size from birth to two weeks:
[Image updated: 12/21/15]
Did you doubt your supply when you first started breastfeeding? When did you start to feel more confident about your milk production?