How DO you know if your baby is getting enough from the breast?! This is the number one question that new moms struggle with!! Rest assured that we will give you some big tips in this post, so read on.
First things first, how old is your baby? Most people who are wondering if baby is getting enough have a baby who is between 1-6 weeks old, so that is what we will focus on for this post.
1. The number one way we assess whether baby is getting enough is…..Diapers!!! How many diapers does your baby use up in a day? We count the poopy diapers and the wet diapers separately. The baby should be stooling at least the size of a quarter each time. The wet diapers we count are only the soaked diapers, not just the “blue line” showing up. So for this age (1-6 wks old), a baby should have at least 2 poopy diapers a day and at least 5 wet diapers.
We often hear that it is “normal” for a baby to stool only once a week. This is not true. It may be “common” but it is not a normal, healthy situation. For more information on this please see this post on stooling patterns. There are other reasons why a baby may not stool as often, so it is possible that the baby is still getting enough but other reasons are at play. If you are concerned, make an appointment with an IBCLC to get a full evaluation.
2. How is baby’s behavior after a feeding session? Does he seem fussy still, even after feeding him? Does he settle into a quiet state or fall asleep. Most babies fall asleep after feeding and having a full tummy. If he isn’t quiet, is he fussy and putting his hands to his mouth or rooting, or is he gassy with pain in his belly or needing to get a burp out? If he is putting his hands to his mouth or rooting then he is not full and satisfied.
3. How many times a day are you nursing your baby if you are exclusively breastfeeding? At this stage expect that your baby will need to nurse 8-12+ times a day. It sounds like so much! And it is! But it is completely normal too. 🙂 For most babies, they are going to feed for around 20 minutes total. If your baby is acting hungry and is feeding shorter, you should get a consult. If the baby is feeding longer there could be other issues at play that also warrant a lactation consult.
4. Weight gain. Does your baby seem to be getting heavier? Is he filling out his clothes more? Is he putting on those beloved chunky rolls in his arms and thighs? Fuller cheeks? Trust your momma instinct here (and if you aren’t sure ask a family member what they see!)
5. How long do each feeding sessions go from start to finish (including both breasts if he takes both) for actively feeding? Do you feel like your baby “falls asleep” at the breast or slows down a lot during a feeding? Does it take a lot of work to keep the baby stimulated and suckling at the breast? Are you looking at 40 minutes plus of active feeding for your little one? If any of these things you are saying yes to, it does not necessarily mean baby is not getting enough but it definitely warrants that you have a weighted feed evaluated by a lactation consultant (IBCLC).
By 6 months of age your baby is likely beginning solid foods. If they are, then the amount of milk volume needed does decrease some. Finally, we want to reiterate to trust your momma gut. If you think that the baby is hungry and isn’t getting enough, then there is a good chance you are right. If you have concerns, definitely see out a lactation consultation with a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).
For more information on baby’s milk intake needs check out KellyMom here.