How do I know my baby is getting enough milk from me?

How do you know your baby is getting enough milk?

I’m asked often this very important question. A few ways you can monitor your nursing baby for sufficient intake is by monitoring diaper output, weight gain and assessing your breasts.

1: Over the first few days of life you’ll expect baby to have 1 diaper wet and 1 dirty for each day of life. On day 3-4 we’d like to see light yellow urine and meconium passed. Failure to pass meconium by day 5 would warrant investigating weight and intake. By day 3-4 when your milk comes in you’ll want to see 6-8 wet diapers a day minimum and several dirty yellow stool diapers.

2: Weight gain is a great indicator of baby transferring enough milk. Most babies lose up to 7% of weight over the first few days. We like to see babies regain their weight by day 10-14. Over the first 3 months you’ll expect baby to gain 5-8 ounces a day or on average 0.5-1 ounce a day. From 4-6 months average weight gain is 3-4 ounces a week and from 6-12 months weight gain slows to 1-3 ounces a week. Most infants will double their birth weight gain by 12-16 weeks of age. By monitoring weight gain, you can ensure baby is getting enough milk. Pumping is not an indication of how much milk you make, just what you can pump and there is no substitute to having baby at the breast.

3: Another great way to know if baby is getting enough milk is to feel our breasts after a feeding. Are they softer? Did you feel a let down? Not all moms feel a let down, so don’t be worried if you haven’t. You’ll also watch baby for the eating pattern of “suck-swallow-breath.” Baby should be taking a pause to have an audible swallow. You may even notice suck-swallow-suck-swallow quickly at the time the milk ejection reflex starts. Baby will then move into a slower pattern. You’ll monitor for good jaw movement- long sucking motions and comfortable latch. The latch should be wide open (think of fish flared lips), chin touching breast and relaxed arms and hands. Baby may or may not fall asleep at the breast after feeding. Baby should be nursing 8-12x in 24 hour period. 

By monitoring these 3 important aspects of your breastfeeding relationship and baby, you can feel more confident that your baby is transferring the right amount of milk. I tell moms everyday “trust your body and trust your baby.” 

-Dawnalea Robinson RN, BSN, IBCLC

Dawnalea Robinson