How can I tell if my newborn is getting enough breast milk?
This always seems to be a question that new moms face. Because we can’t see how much breast milk our breasts hold (although sometimes it feels like a ton!), and we can’t see how much our babies have drunk, we often find ourselves asking, “Did she drink enough?”
Basically, there are a couple of ways to make sure that your baby is consuming enough breast milk:
1. Normal weight gain.
It is normal for your baby to lose 5-7% of their birth weight in the first few days after birth (Kellymom.com, n.d.), but your baby should start to gain weight again by day 5. That being said, the average weight gain for a baby for the first four months is 5-7 oz. /week. Then 4-5 oz. /week from 4-6 months, and 2-4 oz. /week from 6 months-12 months (kellymom.com, n.d.). Check with your midwife or doctor if you feel that your baby is not gaining enough weight. There can be other factors, besides low milk supply, that could cause low weight gain.
- 0-4 months—5-7 oz./week
- 4-6 months—4-5 oz./week
- 6-12 months—2-4 oz./week
2. Normal amount of wet and poopy diapers.
In the first few days after birth, when your baby is drinking colostrum, their first bowel movements will be a dark, sticky, and green poop called meconium, or what my husband and I like to call, “Tar Poop!” Once your breast milk comes in, your baby’s poop will turn from dark, sticky tar to a nice yellow color, of which we lovingly call, “breast milk poo.” According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, this transition from the first dark poop to the first yellow poop, is a good indication of adequate milk supply, if your baby’s poop changes to yellow by Day 5.
After your baby’s poop has turned yellow, on average your baby will poop two to four times per day (BreastfeedingUSA.com, n.d.). Please note, that it could also be normal for your baby to NOT poop this much, but typically, 2-4 poopy diapers is normal. As for wet diapers, 4-6 wet diapers a day, by the fourth day after birth, is what we’re looking for (AskDrSears.com, 2015).
- 2-4 poopy diapers/day
- 4-6 wet diapers/day
As a mom, you should be monitoring your baby’s output of diapers, not only to make sure that your baby is consuming enough milk, but also because it’s important to note any weird odors or abnormalities and tell your doctor or midwife right away, as they could be signs and symptoms of other ailments or emergencies.
So, to recap:
If your baby is gaining adequate weight and your baby is having the normal amount of wet and/or poopy diapers a day, these are good indications that your baby is getting plenty of milk. Some other indications that your baby is getting enough milk are: “alertness, responsiveness, and growth in length and head circumference” (BreastfeedingUSA.com, n.d.).
And let’s not forget, how the breastfeeding process itself is going!
One of the easiest ways for me to make sure that my baby is getting enough milk, is if I feel like my breasts are full of milk at the beginning of the feeding and then after she chugs away at my breast, they are noticeably less full. Seriously, if your baby is chugging and swallowing during each feeding, followed by pooping and peeing, you are doing a great job! Also, if your breasts act like nature’s fountains…that is a sure sign that you are producing plenty of breast milk.
What is interesting to note is that a breastfed baby’s weight gain is faster if the breastfed baby is fed “on-demand”, and the baby co-sleeps with the mother, versus a breast-fed baby who is fed on a schedule, sleeps away from the mother, and is trained to sleep through the night by way of “crying it out”, or “sleep training” (Ask Dr. Sears, 2013). Personally, all my babies have been breastfed “on-demand” and slept with me until they were emotionally ready to sleep in their own bed and all of them have been healthy with normal weight gain. I highly recommend breastfeeding “on-demand” (and with as much skin on skin contact, as well) and co-sleeping, to any mother who wants to do so. I have found there to be many benefits to breastfeeding “on-demand” and co-sleeping, for both myself and my children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that, your breastfeeding newborn should be seen at three to five days of age, in order to check that your baby is thriving (AAP, 2012). It is really important that this recommendation be followed to ensure that your baby is getting what they need to be a happy, healthy baby and any problems be caught and addressed early on. If you still have questions, absolutely talk it over with your midwife or pediatrician to find out what they think based on your unique circumstances.
- “KellyMom.com : Average Weight Gain for Breastfed Babies.” KellyMomcom. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2016. http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/weight-gain/
- “Average Breastfed Baby Weight Gain | Ask Dr Sears®.” Ask Dr Sears The Trusted Resource for Parents. N.p., 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 03 Jan. 2016. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/breastfeeding/faqs/how-much-weight-will-my-breastfeeding-baby-gain
- Mohrbacher, Nancy. “Diaper Output and Milk Intake in the Early Weeks.” Diaper Output and Milk Intake in the Early Weeks. Breastfeeding USA, n.d. Web. 05 Jan. 2016.
- “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.” <i>American Academy of Pediatrics: Gateway</i>. American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012. Web. 4 Jan. 2015. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full.pdf+html
- “Getting Enough Milk? How to Tell | Ask Dr Sears® | The Trusted Resource for Parents.” Ask Dr Sears The Trusted Resource for Parents. AskDrSears.com, 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 05 Jan. 2016. http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/breastfeeding/faqs/getting-enough-milk-how-tell