How to know your breastfed baby is getting enough

The long awaited day is here!  You finally gave birth to your sweet bundle of squirmy, tiny, wailing goodness, and although she isn’t all that cute right now, you are instantly in love.

Now what?!!

The realization that it is now your complete responsibility to keep this little human alive and not screaming 24/7 is a bit overwhelming.  You want to breastfeed and so your first attempt at it goes quite smoothly.  Baby latches, mom sighs a big exhale of relief and all seems fine…..until the next day or next feeding or next week, when all of a sudden baby doesn’t latch well, your nipples hurt like hell and your child is crying way more than you ever imagined they would and so you offer a bottle and your baby gulps it down and falls asleep!  Now you question everything.  What am I doing wrong?  Have I been starving my baby?  Am I making enough milk?  Why won’t she latch or stay on?

Those are some great questions and I have the answers.  I could take many blogs to address all the intricacy’s of those questions but let’s start with taking a deep breath and TRYING to relax, and we’ll first focus on signs that tell you your baby is getting enough milk.

Are they:

  • peeing enough? 1 wet diaper a day until milk comes in then, 8-10 wet cloth diapers and 4-6 disposables in 24 hours
  • pooping enough?  1 poop on days 1-3, then typically 2+ on day 3 or 4
  • feeding enough?  Eating every 1.5-3 hours or 8-12 x’s a day
  • gaining weight?  Babies drop up to 10% birth weight, but should start to gain again when your milk comes in.  Remember to gauge weight gain based on lowest weight  Gain is gain, babies should double their birth weight by 6 months.
  • alert and active, appear healthy, good color, have firm skin?
  • falling asleep after eating or at least their hands relax, become limp and baby appears satisfied?

If your baby is doing all of these things, then most likely baby is getting adequate breastmilk.  Do not worry about your breast changes.  Soft breasts are not an indication that you are making less milk.  Do not worry about how much milk you pump.  Babies are much more efficient than  pumps so they eat more than you can pump.  If you have given baby a bottle and they have drank it after a feeding, it is very likely you have stretched out their little tummies and now they are needing more and more to be content.  Make sure you are following paced bottle feeding.  If your baby is less than 6 weeks old, stop pumping and focus on skin to skin and nursing frequently to establish a great milk supply for your baby.

Breastfeeding is a very natural thing that millions of women have done for centuries, but just because it is innate and the most natural thing you can do, does not mean it comes naturally to you or even your baby.  There can be reasons they struggle to latch and it is a learning curve for both.

If you are struggling and worried about your supply, please contact a lactation consultant, or an IBCLC for help.  You may also consider a postpartum doula to help you get the adequate rest you need and they too can often trouble shoot some basic breastfeeding challenges.

 

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