Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
When you’re breastfeeding, it can be hard to know whether your baby is getting enough milk. Especially if you don’t pump, you never see the exchange. Your baby latches on, suckles for a while and pops off, satiated and happy.
That’s what happens in a perfect world. In your world, you might be dealing with an infant that turns away when your letdown comes on too strong, falls asleep at the breast or has trouble latching on altogether.
There are myriad things that can make you less than confident about breastfeeding. At some point in most mothers’ lives, they feel like everything would be ok if they could at least know that their baby is getting enough milk.
Here’s how to know for sure.
Don’t Rely On Your Pump
Your pump bottles have convenient little lines that tell you exactly how many milliliters you pumped. That seems like a foolproof way to gauge your milk production. If you could just pump one time, you’d know exactly how much milk baby is getting, right?
For one, a baby with a decent latch removes milk from your breast much more effectively than your pump does. Also, some moms have trouble producing for the pump. Plus, your supply varies throughout the day. One pumping session won’t tell you how much milk your baby is getting.
Is Your Baby Gaining Weight?
Weight gain can be a clue as to how much milk your baby is transferring. Babies who gain well are probably getting enough. An exclusively breastfed baby should gain about an ounce/day.
But gauging milk transfer by your baby’s weight gain alone doesn’t tell the whole story. Newborns typically lose up to 7% of their weight in the first three to four days after they’re born. But a 10% weight loss is still considered normal for breastfed babies, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Infants should regain their birth weight by 10 to 14 days post birth. An adequate milk supply and a good latch should take care of that. But if you were given IV fluids during labor, your newborn’s weight is falsely inflated at birth.
In other words, if your baby is gaining weight well, don’t worry about your milk supply. But if your little one’s growth is slow, don’t be discouraged. Look at other indicators before you assume that it has to do with your milk.
Wet and Dirty Diapers
Your infant’s elimination can tell a lot about what they’re taking in. In the first four days after birth, babies should have the same number of wet diapers as days.
Wet Diaper Chart:
Day 1 – 1 wet diaper
Day 2 – 2 wet diapers
Day 3 – 3 wet diapers
Day 4 – 4-5 wet diapers
Day 5 – 6+ wet diapers
What counts as a wet diaper? Put 1-3 tablespoons of water in a diaper and feel it. That’s what counts as a wet diaper for a newborn. Babies who urinate more frequently will pass less liquid with each occurrence.
As for dirty diapers, breastfed babies should be passing watery, yellowish stools that may have some cottage-cheese-like lumps. However, your infant might still pass meconium up to day 5. During that time frame, stools will change from black to Incredible-Hulk green before they become a mustardy color.
By day 4, your baby should have 3-4 dirty diapers per day. What counts as a newborn stool? It should be at least the size of a quarter.
After the first week, a great way to assess how many wet or dirty diapers a newborn has is to set 10 diapers out in a separate area in the morning. By the evening, you’ll have gone through most of them. If you haven’t, you’ll have an obvious visual cue because the stack of diapers will still be high. This can save you from the hassle of keeping copious notes while you’re trying to get used to live with a little one.
Other Signs That Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
Some other things to look for if you’re wondering , “Is my newborn getting enough milk?” include:
Baby is feeding every 2-3 hours, even at night
Breastfeeding is comfortable and doesn’t hurt
You can hear your baby swallow during your letdown
Your breasts soften and feel emptier after a feed
Some signs that your little one may not be transferring breastmilk well include:
Your nipple is flattened or misshapen after breastfeeding
Baby doesn’t change rhythm during a feed
Baby doesn’t latch
Baby’s tongue flutters at the breast and rarely uses a firm rolling motion
Baby makes clicking noises during a feed
A newborn is jaundiced
Baby is not producing enough wet or dirty diapers
The urine is dark yellow and smells strong after the first few days (orange urine in the first few days of life is normal)
If you have any of these signs and are concerned about how much milk your baby is getting, call a lactation consultant. I’m here to help you out and give you the peace of mind that you need.
Looking for support? Virtual and in-person consultations- Call Lactation Counseling Services for support from an IBCLC!