The Size of Your Baby’s Stomach: Breastfeeding in the Early Days

April 7, 2015

It’s totally common for a new mom to doubt her breast milk 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 breast milk 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 breast milk 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 breast milk yet.

In fact, here are some general ranges for full-term infant stomach size from birth to two weeks:

size of baby's stomach in first 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?

92 thoughts on “The Size of Your Baby’s Stomach: Breastfeeding in the Early Days

  1. My baby is 6 days old and she demands to eat around 20 times a day. This is so exhausting, we are barely sleeping, all we do is feed her and change diapers. I always let her decide when she’s had enough (she rarely sucks more than 6 minutes before she falls asleep) and I know I have more than enough milk (in 10 minute I manually express 80 ml) so I don’t know what is the problem. I’m breastfeeding her since day one and on her 3rd day she was almost already at her birth weight (only being 0.5 ounces lighter) so my milk is definitely enough. Do you know why she eats so frequently? It’s becoming very hard to manage. Please help!

    • Mama, if you are on Facebook the group “milky mommas” is an AWESOME support group for breastfeeding moms! It saved our breastfeeding relationship. Also this is normal for a baby this little it is exhausting but it’s so worth it in the end! The first 3 weeks are the hardest! But it does get better I promise!! My baby is 3 months now and I feel bad for moms who have to get up and make formula bottles in the middle of the night!

    • Breast milk is made for a baby’s digestive system. It’s the perfect nutrition. Therefore, it’s digested very quickly so it’s natural for babies to nurse frequently the first few weeks. Also, breast milk is made on. Supply and demand system, so the more the baby nurses, the more milk you produce. Hang in there Mama, I promiseit gets easier and is all worth it!

    • She is probably falling asleep too soon and is still hungry, it takes a lot of energy to nurse. Try waking her up to finish, undress her down to a diaper, it will make her chilly and she will nurse longer. It gets better trust me. You are doing great.

    • Same boat here! My now 14 day old does nothing but eat. I can pump 2-3 ounces, make a bottle and then he will eat again on each breast. I’m assuming he is getting anywhere from 8-9 ounces in a feeding!

    • Hi there. It might seem that is all you do. But newborns will act like that and is completely normal. Please give your newborn time to adjust. Being close to you and at the breast is the safest place she/ he knows. Hang in there mama! Time will fly before you even know it and this phase will pass. Feed on demand and sleep when the baby sleeps. Even for 10 minutes. Get a wrap or baby sling/carrier and it will help you with getting things done around the house. Hope this helps

    • Baby is likely tired, not hungry. If she’s wanting to feed 20 times a day and falling asleep after a few minutes. Sleep her! I made the same mistake.

  2. Thank you gals so much for the information and words of support, it means a lot. My baby girl is now 30 days old and our breastfeeding relationship has improved a lot, I’m nursing her 12-13 times per day, some days she regresses to 18 times but it’s much better now. Again thanks for your kind words.
    xoxo,
    Andrea

  3. I can relate! It felt like all I did was have my boobs out for the first 12 weeks, sleep, and change diapers! I’m still breastfeeding my 8 month old and it does get sooo much easier! There are times I wanted to give up but am so glad I didn’t! You are doing great’

  4. Hi my baby is 4 months old and just now he is BF before that he drank only in bottle which I pump and gv. But now I am feeding frequently and I don’t know whether his stomach got full. And he fall sleep within 10 minutes while drinking.

  5. Hi I am breastfeeding my now 6 week old baby but he is still feeding frequently some days are better than others might go every 2 hours or could go 3 or 4 hours between feeds but it feels exhausting. I am loving the convenience factor but it’s hard work. I can express 5 onzes and he can still look for breast nearly an hour after it’s becoming exhausting getting no break

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