Every new mum will ask themselves ‘Is my baby getting enough milk ‘ in the early weeks of having a newborn. In the UK the number one reason for stopping breastfeeding is that mums think they do not make enough breast milk for their baby. Most mothers are capable of making enough milk to feed their baby. As we can’t see how much a breastfed baby drinks we compare them formula fed baby, and the two usually have very different behaviours.
So just how does a normal, healthy, nourished breastfed baby behave? If your baby is showing the following signs you’re on the right track.
Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
- A newborn baby will feed around 8-12 times in 24 hours, so every 2-3 hours. This may seem like a lot but they have very small tummies to fill and can digest breast milk a lot quicker than formula. By the second month the frequency should drop to around 7-8 times a day.
- A normal feed should take around 10-30 minutes.
- Your breasts feel soft and empty after a feed
- You can hear baby swallowing the milk. You may also hear a gurgle when the milk goes into baby’s tummy.
- After a feed your baby seems full and relaxed. Baby may fall asleep or act what I like to call ‘milk drunk’. Look for soft open hands when feeding, baby will relax their hands when they are full.
- For the first few days your babies age will match how many wet nappies they will have. So day 1 means one wet nappy, day 2 is two wet nappies. This will continue until your milk comes in and they baby should be having at least 5-6 wet nappies a day if you use disposables, or 6-8 if you use cloth nappies.
- Over the first week your babies stools will change from a black meconium, to a brown/green and then to a seedy yellow colour.
- Breastfed babies have a loose odourless or sweet smelling stools. Breast milk has a laxative effect on babies so be ready for those explosive ones!
- A breastfed baby will have around 3-4 dirty nappies a day.
- Your baby will be alert and with good skin colour and tone.
- A midwife or health visitor will check for normal head circumference and length to make sure they are growing.
- Your baby can lose up to 10% of its birth weight in the first few days as he adjusts to having to ask for his food. After this your baby should gain at least 4-5oz (120g) per week for the first month.
- If the soft spot (fontanelle) on babies head feels ‘sunken’ then this is a sign of dehydration, your midwife or health visitor should feel for this when checking baby.
If you have any concerns about your baby contact your midwife, health visitor or GP for advice.
- Offer baby a feed every two hours if you think your milk supply is too low. If you follow the feeding signs above then baby is getting enough and you milk supply will increase quickly.
- Babies show other signs of hunger before crying which is a late sign of hunger. Try to put baby to the breast before they begin to cry. Look out for hand sucking, head moving from side to side, and rooting – a ‘hen peck’ motion when you hold baby.
- It’s best to avoid using dummies until breastfeeding is established (around 6 weeks) so you can identify the signs of hunger.
- If you are expressing milk to see how much baby is getting you may want to cup feed or use a special teat if you plan to put baby back to the breast. This will prevent baby from getting teat confusion.
- See our Top Ten tips on how to increase your milk supply.