Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?

on September 9, 2013

 

How do I know my baby is getting enough milk?
There are three main ways to tell: look at your baby’s weight, output (wet and soiled diapers) and behaviour. If your baby is gaining weight properly, that is the most certain sign.

 

Do babies gain weight right from birth?
Initially babies lose weight. This is mainly because they are expelling the black tarry stool (meconium) that has built up inside the colon during pregnancy. After the meconium is flushed out, the baby’s weight will stabilize and the baby begins to gain weight. This most often happens after the third or fourth day. Many babies lose about 7-8% before they start gaining. A baby is expected to return to his birth weight by 10-14 days of age.

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How much weight do babies usually gain after those first 2 weeks?
Healthy full term breastfed babies gain 150-200 grams (5-7 ounces) per week. They gain weight steadily and quickly in the first three months. Then their weight gain slows down. Some babies may gain slightly less or slightly more depending on their family body structure. This is summarized in a table at the end of the information sheet How to Know Your Breastfed Baby is Getting Enough. Contact a local Leader to get a copy.

 

If my baby hasn’t been weighed lately, are there other ways to tell if he’s getting enough?
Even if your baby hasn’t been weighed for a few days, his pees and poops will tell you that he is getting enough. During the first day or two after birth expect one or two wet diapers per day. This will increase over the next 2-3 days. After day 4 a baby should have at least five to six really wet diapers per day (more if you use cloth diapers). By the third day, expect the colour of dirty diapers to change to a greenish transitional stool. By the 5th day babies begin having at least three to five bowel movements per day, each at least the size of a Toonie (2.5 cm). These will typically be very loose and bright yellow in colour, often with a “seedy” appearance. This is summarized in a table at the end of the information sheet How to Know Your Breastfed Baby is Getting Enough. Contact a local Leader to get a copy.

 

Is there a way to tell during feedings that my baby is getting milk?
Yes. You can tell that your baby is drinking by watching for swallowing. When your baby swallows, you will see his chin drop almost to his chest and you may hear a soft “kah” sound. You will also notice that your baby has many slow deep sucks before taking a short pause. When your baby is done, your breasts will feel softer, and your baby will appear satisfied.

 

If I don’t hear swallowing in the first few days is the baby getting anything?
In the early days, when the baby is getting colostrum, many mothers don’t hear swallows. This doesn’t mean that your baby is not getting milk. Often you will be able to see swallows as your baby’s jaw drops closer down to his chest for an instant. It is this drop in the chin that tells you that colostrum is going into his mouth; it may look like his suck is deeper and longer. Often babies then rest for a couple of seconds before continuing a pattern of little sucks-dropped jaw-pause. It is important for the baby to be latched on to the breast deeply and effectively so he can get all the colostrum he needs.

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What are ways I can wake my sleepy baby to feed?
Holding your baby skin-to-skin is an excellent way to wake a baby and get him interested in feeding. Other ways are to undress him, hold him upright, talk with him, move his arms and legs. While he’s sleeping, watch for movement. This is a sign of light sleep. He’ll wake more easily from a light sleep than from a deep sleep.

 

How do I know if my milk is rich enough for my baby?
Human milk is designed with all the nutrients in the right proportions for human babies. Mothers all over the world, eating many types of foods, have similar nutrients in their milk. If a mother is very malnourished her milk can have low amounts of some nutrients, but this is extremely rare in Canada.

 

What is the most important thing I can do to ensure a good milk supply?
Allowing your baby to suckle often and long enough to remove milk are the best ways to establish a good milk supply. Helping your baby obtain a deep mouthful of breast is also important. For more detailed information, contact a local Leader to get a copy of the information sheet: Establishing Your Milk Supply.   *

 

Read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

* http://www.lllc.ca/faq

 

Signs That Baby is Getting Plenty of Milk

Age of baby

 

Wet diapers per 24 hr

 

Bowel movements per 24 hr

 

Weight

 

1-2 days

 

 

1-2

 

 

Expelling meconium

 

 

Normal loss

 

 

3-5 days

 

 

Increasing to 5-6*

 

 

At least 3 greenish, transitional stools

 

 

Stabilizing

 

 

6+ days

 

 

5-6*

 

 

At least 3-5, the size of a $2 coin

 

 

Gaining 115-200 g (4-7 oz) per week

 

 

14 days

 

 

5-6*

 

 

At least 3-5

 

 

Back to birth weight (may happen earlier)

 

 

6 weeks

 

 

5-6*

 

 

Some babies change to less frequent, but larger, bowel movements

 

 

Gaining 115-200 g (4-7 oz) per week

 

 

*more (6-8) if using cloth diapers

 

 

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking http://www.lllc.ca/find-group or Internationally http://www.llli.org.

 

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One response to “Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?

  1. […] Between 48 and 72 hours after birth, the meconium changes to dark green and then lightens in colour to yellow. By Day 6 the breastfed baby will have stools which are yellow, loose, and sometimes described as seedy. Normally stools will be at least the size of a Toonie (2.5 cm).  This is summarized in a table here. […]

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