Is Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?

A new mommy will sometimes wonder whether her baby has or is drinking enough breast milk whilst breastfeeding. Since you cannot measure the exact amounts like you can when bottle feeding, it may leave a mother feeling insecure about the amount of milk she is producing. 

Best Indicators to Look out for

lying down while breastfeeding, breastfeeding lying down
  • Sucking and swallowing: Whilst breastfeeding, you can see by the way your baby is moving his/her mouth and chin, whether he/she is drinking or not. Watch the video to see the examples below. If you can hear your baby swallowing, then you can rest assured that he/she is getting in lots of milk, but not every baby makes swallowing sounds at the breast.
  • Sensation at the breast: You should feel a strong deep pulling sensation when your baby is suckling.
  • Bowel movements: Colostrum will help move the meconium (first dark stools) from your baby’s system. Baby should have at least 1 dark bowel movement every day, until about day three when the stools start to become lighter in color.
  • By the end of baby’s first week he/she should be passing at least 2 soft stools each day. After three weeks of life, it is very common for exclusively breastfed babies to only have 1 stool every week, so don’t worry if your baby starts pooping less after 3 weeks of age, this is due to the fact that breast milk is easily digested. Read more about normal stools for the breastfed baby.
  • Urination: After 4 days, your baby should be wetting at least 4 diapers per day (24 hours) Baby’s urine should be a clear color, darker urine indicates that your baby is not getting in enough fluids.
  • Your breasts feel softer after nursing: This indicates that your baby has removed milk, making your breasts seem emptier.
  • Weight gain: Most babies will lose about 9% of their birth weight and then gain it back by week two. Read more here about weight gain in the breastfed infant

NEVER Judge Your Baby’s Milk Intake by…

  • Thinking that your breasts are not full of milk, because they do not feel full. Many moms do not feel full or engorged during the first few weeks, until the baby has started drinking well. An engorged breast does not indicate the amount of milk available.
  • Baby is not sleeping through the night. Most breastfed babies do not sleep through at night. Breast milk is absorbed much quicker than formula and, therefore, a breastfed baby might need to feed more often at night.
  • Baby cries after every feeding. Baby may be crying for many different reasons.
  • Baby seems to never get enough, because he/she breastfeeds very often. There is no right amount of time that a baby should feed, each baby is different, but make sure that your baby is actively sucking and swallowing during feeding times. Comfort feeding is beneficial. 
  • Using breast compression can also help your milk flow; keeping him/her alert during feedings. It is normal for your baby to want to breastfeed 15 or more times per day for a few weeks (between 6 and 8 weeks), after this the feedings usually go down to between 8 or 10 feedings per day.
  • Not pumping enough breast milk. The amount of milk that you express has nothing to do with whether you have enough milk. Your baby removes milk much more efficiently than a breast pump and a person's breasts are constantly producing milk whilst a baby is sucking.
  • Baby is willing to take a bottle after breastfeeding. Do not offer your breastfed baby a bottle, this may interfere with breastfeeding and cause nipple confusion. Babies will usually accept anything you put in their mouths, even when they are not hungry, so this is not a good indication of whether your baby is hungry or not.
  • Baby is pulling away from the breast. This could mean a few things. Read more about breastfeeding strikes.

Top of baby getting enough breast milk page

mom and baby, sleeping baby, happy mom

How to Know if Baby is Full

  • Baby starts falling asleep at the breast.
  • Baby’s arms and legs become limp.
  • Baby starts pulling away or starts moving his/her head away from the breast.

If you feel that your baby has a feeding problem or you are not producing enough breast milk, you should seek the help of a professional lactation consultant who can spend one-on-one time with you and your baby.

If it happens that your baby does need to be supplemented, it is always best to introduce a lactation aid or other alternative feeding method instead of an artificial nipple, to avoid nipple confusion.

A Few Tips

Example of a Good Milk Transfer

If your baby has visible signs of milk transfer, as shown in this video, then you can rest assured that your baby is getting enough breast milk. 

Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with “is baby getting enough breast milk"

- Breastfeeding a sleepy baby

- Spitting up in the breastfed baby

- Breastfed baby feeding cues

- Not enough milk? Low milk supply

- Latching on for preemies

- Breast milk storage

Not enough breast milk for baby?

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