"Am I making enough milk for my baby?" - How to know your baby is getting enough to eat
When you're new to breastfeeding, one of the most common concerns is whether you're making enough milk for your baby. Of course you want to know that your baby is getting enough to eat!
Especially when many of us were raised seeing bottle feeding as the norm, we're so used to being able to easily and immediately see how much baby is eating by watching milk disappear from the bottle. But unless you're exclusively pumping and bottle feeding, breastfeeding doesn't conform to that kind of information--if only our breasts had ounce markers on the side!
But just because there is no easy way to get an exact measurement of how much milk baby is getting and you are producing, that doesn't mean that there aren't ways to tell that breastfeeding is going well and baby is getting enough to eat.
The first sign that your baby is getting enough milk is how many wet diapers they have. Just as we experience as adults, pee is a good sign of being well hydrated.
In the first few days before your milk comes in, you can expect your baby to have one wet diaper for every day of life (1 wet diaper on day one, 2 wet diapers on day two, etc.)
Once your milk has come in, you can expect 5 or more wet diapers every 24 hours.
After 6 weeks, your baby may drop to fewer wet diapers but each diaper will be more wet as their bladder capacity increases.
Much like wet diapers, the early expectation is for baby to have one poopy diaper for each day of life (1 dirty diaper on day one, 2 dirty diapers on day two, etc).
After day 4, your baby's poop will being a yellowish color and loose in texture, and will happen at least 3-4 times a day.
Every baby's normal is different. Your baby may poop every time they nurse, or they may poop more often.
After 4-6 weeks, your baby may have poopy diapers less frequently. Some may even go as long as a week or more without a poopy diaper. As long as he or she is gaining weight normally, this is just what their "normal" looks like.
If your baby lost weight after birth, rest assured that that's completely normal and par for the course. This is not a sign that you aren't making enough milk: normal newborns might lose as much as 7% of their birth weight in the first few days.
After your milk comes in, your baby should average around 6 oz of weight gain a week.
things that are normal in the first six weeks
- Your baby feeding feeding frequently and/or for long sessions
- Your baby's nursing pattern changing from day to day
- Cluster nursing, especially in the evening or during "the witching hour"
- Growth spurts where your baby feeds more often for a few days at a time. Watch for this in the first few days home, 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, and 4-6 weeks after birth.
- Your breasts feeling less full as time goes on is normal. After the first two or three weeks, your breasts won't feel as full between feedings, but that doesn't mean you don't have enough milk.
things that should prompt a call to your doctor or lactation consultant
- Not enough wet or dirty diapers from baby.
- Baby having dark colored urine more than 3 days after birth
- Baby have dark colored poop more than 4 days after birth
- If you symptoms of mastitis like sore breast with fever, chills, or flu like aching
the bottom line
It's very common to be concerned about your milk supply and your baby's eating: you are not alone! But the truth is that by far most women make enough milk to feed their babies, and if your baby is meeting the marks listed above, things are probably going great.
If you do run into problems or you do have a low milk supply, building a relationship with a lactation consultant can help you out.