When bottle feeding, you can see the ounces disappear into your little one and feel reassured that you know how much they’re eating. There isn’t that visual validation with breastfeeding. Thus, the question that’s often on the minds of nursing mothers: “How do I know if my breastfed baby is getting enough milk?” Let’s talk about the signs that indicate your baby is well-nourished and thriving on your breast milk.
Signs Your Breastfed Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
- Consistent Weight Gain: After the initial few days after birth, your baby should start steadily gaining weight. You’ll bring baby to regular check-ups with your pediatrician in those early days to ensure everything is on track.
- Wet Diapers: Around six or more wet diapers a day is a good sign because it let’s you know that your baby is taking in plenty of fluids.
- Frequent Bowel Movements: It’s normal for breastfed babies to have frequent, soft, and yellowish stool. Some babies may even have a bowel movement after each feed in the early weeks.
- Satisfied After Feeding: A well-fed baby is content and happy after a feeding. They may even fall asleep while eating.
- Good Feeding Sessions: Your baby latches onto the breast well and feeds with visible sucking and swallowing motions. Feeding sessions typically last around 10 to 20 minutes per breast.
- Audible Swallowing: You should be able to hear your baby swallowing regularly during feeds.
- Breast Changes: Your breasts should feel softer and less full after feeds, letting you know that your baby is successfully removing milk.
Normal Breastfeeding Patterns That Ensure Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
Breastfeeding on Demand: As a general rule, plan to feed your baby whenever they show signs of hunger. This is the best and easiest way to ensure they get enough milk. T
Another benefit of breastfeeding on demand in that baby’s suckling stimulates your milk supply. Feeding on demand gives you the best chance for a plentiful milk supply.
Growth Spurts & Cluster Feeding: At certain phases of their development, your baby will need to feed more often. Growth spurts typically occur at around 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months and baby needs more nourishment to support their rapid growth.
Cluster feeding is the way your baby eats in responds to growth demands, where they will eat several times in a short period of time. In short, they cluster some feedings together.
During these times with longer, more frequent breastfeeding sessions, you may feel fatigued and nipple sore from so much nursing. And given how frequently your baby is at the breast, it may feel like you’re not producing enough milk to satisfy baby’s hunger. But as you continue to breastfeed on demand, your supply will grow to match your baby’s needs. Don’t give up! Remember, more sucking = more milk production!
When to Seek Help
- Concerns About Weight Gain: If you’re worried your baby isn’t gaining enough weight, consult your pediatrician.
- Feeding or Latching Difficulties: If you’re experiencing consistent pain while feeding, or if your baby seems to struggle with latching, a lactation consultant can provide invaluable assistance.
- Unusual Baby Behavior: If your baby seems unusually lethargic, has very few wet or dirty diapers, or shows signs of dehydration, it’s important to get medical advice.
Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it can take time for both you and your baby to get the hang of it. Remember, every mother and baby pair is different. Trust your instincts, look for these signs, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support.
La Leche League GB (2022). Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk? Retrieved at https://laleche.org.uk/is-my-baby-getting-enough-milk/
Mohrbacher, Nancy (2020). Breastfeeding Answers: A Guide for Helping Families, 2nd edition.