Is Baby Getting Enough Milk?Katlyn Joy |16, August 2011
You know that you are committed to breastfeeding your newborn but you worry whether your baby is getting enough to eat. You were probably instructed prior to bringing your new one home that you should aim for 8 to 12 feedings in a 24 hour period. But how do you know how much baby is actually getting when you don't have an empty bottle to check out at the end of the feeding?
Signs Your Baby is Hungry
- Lip smacking
- Pulling up legs to tummy
- Stretching and yawning
- Putting hands in mouth
- Sucking motions
- Active motions
- Nuzzling to breast
Signs of a Well Fed Baby
Diaper check. You want to see at least six soaking wet diapers a day, and regular bowel movements. What is regular? That depends on your baby. Some have a few loose mustard looking poops a day, while others, especially after the second week of life, have only one a day.
Healthy level of activity and a healthy look. Babies who are well fed seem overall content, alert and not overly fussy. They have a nice skin tone and don't appear pale, dehydrated or lethargic.
Weight gain is appropriate. What's that mean, though? Expect a loss of several ounces in the first week, but a regaining to the birth weight by the end of the second week. Babies typically gain between a half and 1 full ounce a day for the first few months of life once the milk supply has been established.
Proper Nursing for Well Fed Babies
- Make sure you are positioned properly for breastfeeding. Get instruction from nurses at the hospital or get a consultation with a lactation specialist.
- Listen for swallowing while baby nurses. Aim for 10 to 30 minutes on each breast with periods of sucking, swallowing, pausing and nibbling. Sighs of contentment may follow or simply drowsiness.
- Offer each breast at each nursing session, and massage the breast gently while nursing to help get that hind-milk, which is heavy in good calories, into baby.
- If latching on is painful, stick your finger gently into the corner of baby's mouth and remove breast and reposition to make sure baby is latched on correctly.
Myths about If Baby is Getting Enough Milk
- Baby sleeps the night. Some babies will sleep the night through even if they are not getting sufficient milk.
- Your breasts are not overly full. Even if baby is getting enough milk you may still feel quite full until your milk supply is established and nursing is settled.
- Baby doesn't pull away from the breast. Some people falsely assume when baby stops nursing abruptly there is a problem with the milk supply. Sometimes baby is just fighting sleep and realizes the milk is knocking them out and will fuss to fight against the sleepiness.
- Baby will not take a bottle after a feeding. Bottles may or may not interest baby after a nursing session regardless of hunger.
Ways to Increase and Maintain Your Milk Supply
Take care of yourself. Get adequate rest (yes, easier said than done!) and drink at least several glasses of water a day. Eat a healthy diet. Try to set a glass of milk water or juice near you during your nursing sessions. Put your feet on while breastfeeding and try to relax during this time period.
Don't diet. You need to maintain a proper amount of calories to produce enough milk for baby and meet your own dietary needs. Breastfeeding burns calories, remember.
If you feel you aren't producing enough milk, consider pumping temporarily between nursing sessions to increase milk supply. A hospital grade breast pump will work best and can be rented for a short period.
Avoid bottles, supplementation and pacifiers at least temporarily, until nursing is well established and your milk supply strong.
With doctor's OK try supplements such as Brewer's Yeast, Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle or Red Raspberry. These supplements may be used as capsules, tablets or as teas. Always check it out with your physician prior to trying anything, especially while nursing, however.
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