“How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?”
“What if I don’t make enough milk for my baby?”
These are common questions our clients have, and they are important questions! First, it is pretty uncommon to truly not be able to make enough milk for your baby. It can be confusing to know if your baby is getting enough milk. When feeding from a bottle, we can very easily see how many ounces baby is consuming; but, unfortunately our breast do not have convenient ounce markers…. Let’s look at some of the ways you can know that your baby is getting enough milk.
The First Week
In the first few days of life, your breastfed newborn will be receiving colostrum from you. This “first milk” is calorie dense, full of amazing antibodies and gives your baby’s digestive system a good start. Your newborn’s stomach is about the size of a cherry, so it doesn’t take much colostrum to fill it up, about a teaspoon in fact! Newborns will go through a sleep cycle after birth, but it is important to feed your newborn frequently, about every 2-3 hours around the clock. Newborns love to snuggle and suckle, and they will normally need to be woken up in order to get in an adequate feed. It is normal and expected for newborn to lose some weight in these first few days. Your nurses and pediatrician will be keeping a close eye on baby’s weight to ensure they don’t lose too much.
You’ll know if your baby is receiving enough colostrum when they have one wet and one dirty diaper for each day of life. By the second and third days, a minimum of 2 to 3 wet diapers and 2 to 4 stools are a great sign that your baby is nursing effectively and getting the milk they need. These early stools are dark green, sometimes turning green-orange in color.
By day 4-5 your mature milk should make an appearance. You’ll start to notice your baby making audible swallowing sounds, and may even see some milk spilling out of their mouth. Five or more wet diapers and at least two (mustard yellow) stools are considered a sign of good intake. For the rest of baby’s first month, they should have two to three loose stools (at least the size of a quarter) and 6 or more wet diapers each day. Many providers want to see baby back up to their birth weight by 2-weeks of age. If baby is slow to gain weight, it may mean they are not getting enough milk.
After 6weeks of age, many babies will have fewer dirty diapers, but the number of wet diaper should still remain higher. Other signs your baby is getting enough milk from the breast: feeding regularly, gaining weight, content and satisfied and your breast feel softer after a feed.
Baby becoming fussy? Feel like they want to nurse all the time? These alone are not signs that they aren’t getting enough milk. Remember, babies love to suckle, and will continue to have a natural desire to pacify themselves using nature’s original pacifier (the breast!).
If you want to pump and bottle feed breastmilk:
2-3weeks old: 2-3 ounces of milk per feeding, for a total of about 15-25 ounces per day. Your baby will not take the exact same amount at each feeding. Some days they may be more/less hungry just as we are.
By the end of the first month you can expect your baby to be taking an average of 25-35 ounces of milk per day.
Your IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)is a wonderful resource for all things lactation.
If you notice any of the following, contact your provider.
- Drop in the number of wet/dirty diapers.
- Baby is lethargic or overly sleepy.
- Feeds are long, or too short.
- Nipple trauma, or pain.