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How to Tell If a Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 25 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Breastfeeding Nursing Milk Lactation

It takes a few days, or weeks, for mothers and babies to settle into a rhythm while breastfeeding. Throughout this time many mothers wonder if their babies are getting enough breast milk and some of the babies’ behaviour, from seeming hungry all the time to acting fussy following a feeding, might seem like it reinforces this worry. There are many ways to tell if a baby is getting enough milk during breastfeeding. Determining how many nappies are being wet, checking a baby’s stool, checking a baby’s weight, observing a mother’s own breasts, and observing the nursing process can all help mothers determine if their babies are getting enough milk while nursing.

Counting Nappies

Counting how many nappies per day are wet by a baby is one way to help determine if a baby is getting enough milk. If a baby wets at least seven cloth nappies per day, or five disposable nappies per day, then chances are good that (s)he is getting enough milk from the breast. However, babies can still wet their nappies even if they are dehydrated, so counting nappies should not be the only evidence used to judge if they are getting enough breast milk.

Checking Stool

A baby’s stool is a good indicator of his or her breastfeeding. If a breastfeeding baby has at least three stools per day in the first month of life, and these stools are a mustard colour within the first week of life, then the baby is probably getting enough breast milk. After the first month, however, how many stools a baby makes will be unique to the baby. Some babies make a stool every day, and some babies make a stool every other day. Parents will soon become used to what is normal for their babies.

Checking Weight

Checking a baby’s weight is another useful indicator of whether or not that baby is getting enough milk while nursing. It is very common for infants to lose a little weight in the first few days of their life. Some babies lose as much as 10% of their birth weight during this time. However, by the end of the first week an infant should start regaining some of this lost weight. If a baby is not regaining weight by their sixth or seventh day of life then (s)he may not be getting enough milk while breastfeeding.

Observing the Breasts

Lactation is a natural process, one that nursing mothers can not necessarily control. Because of this, many mothers find that their breasts feel slightly harder, heavier and much more full right before they feed their babies. After feeding, then, breasts should feel softer, lighter and less full. By observing the feel of their own breasts mothers can get a little bit more information on how much milk a baby is getting during feedings.

Observing Nursing

Finally, observing a baby while (s)he is nursing can help mothers determine if a baby is getting enough milk. When the room is quite mothers should be able to hear a swallowing sound from babies who are taking in milk. Mothers can also determine if a baby has a good latch on by seeing if some of their areola is covered by the baby’s mouth, and if their nipple is in the softer part of a baby’s mouth during feeding. Watching to see if a baby is suckling can also help mothers see if a baby is feeding well.

There are many signs to look for to help determine if a baby is getting enough milk during breastfeeding. If (s)he is not, then his or her nutrition can be supplemented with formula. Lactation consults and doctors can also offer advice to mothers who worry about their babies’ breastfeeding habits.

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