How to Know Your Baby is Getting Enough Breast Milk

By: Shari Criso MSN, RN, CNM, IBCLC Monday, 13 May 2019 05:00 AM How to Know if Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk

One of the biggest concerns for any new parent is “how do I know my baby is getting enough?” This is especially true for moms when they are breastfeeding. You can’t see what is going in, so how can you tell if it is “enough”?

Some think the answer is in how much time the baby spends at the breast. As if looking at the clock will help determine how much milk is going in and that it is enough for the baby. Although this is common advice, even from medical professionals, it is really not the way to determine if your baby is getting enough breast milk.

If your baby spends 20 minutes on each side, do you really know how much they got? No. All you really know is that they spent 40 minutes sucking. You don’t know how much they took in, or if it was adequate! Babies that are improperly latched onto the breast, or are sleepy may actually do quite a bit of sucking and very little eating. The good news is there are several, much more objective ways that you can tell that your baby is getting enough, and it has nothing to do with clocks! You will need much more objective signs in order to determine your baby’s well being.

Softer Breasts

Begin each feeding by feeling your breast for fullness and then again at the end of the feeding. While it may be subtle, there is usually a noticable difference after a baby has effectively fed and your breast will feel softer than it did when you started. This simple action will confirm that breast milk went in to your baby.

Audible Swallows

As your baby eats and breast milk starts to flow you should be able to hear audible swallows. This is a sound that comes from the baby’s throat. It can be very quiet or very loud depending on your baby. Pay close attention and you will hear it. Lots of swallowing means lot of milk. If you can hear it, then it’s going down.

Satisfied Baby

Your baby should come off your breast satisfied and not hungry. Again, this has nothing to do with time. A calm baby with relaxed fists is a good indication of a satisfied baby. Most babies will not be quiet if they're still hungry, although some babies may cry even when they have had enough. Remember, needing to burp or needing to be held can also cause your baby to cry, so it’s not the only thing to watch for.

Dirty Diapers

Lastly, the most objective and important way to tell that your baby is getting enough breast milk is dirty diapers. Once your milk comes in, your baby should have 3-4 yellow runny stools and at least 6 wet diapers in a 24-hour period. This should confirm that an adequate amount of milk is going in and that your baby is well hydrated. If it is coming out, it is going in! It is impossible for a baby to pee a lot while not getting enough fluid. As the weeks go on some breastfed babies can go up to a week or more without having a bowel movement, and this is normal. Watch for all the other signs, monitor for wet diapers, have your pediatrician confirm that your baby is gaining weight and breastfeed without worry!

My Baby Experts ©

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