One of the most common questions that parents have while breastfeeding is whether or not his baby is getting enough milk. It is crucial that you are feeding your baby frequently for him to get enough nutrients to grow.
It can be a difficult feeling to have. Worrying about your baby’s nutrition and how you are fulfilling his needs is stressful. It does not have to be that way. All you need to do is check for the following signs to ensure that your baby is getting the breast milk he needs.
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6 Signs Your Baby Is Well-Fed
1. Weight Gain
- Your baby should be gaining weight at a regular rate. The first few weeks are critical in regards to weight.
- When you bring your baby home, he will lose about five to seven percent of his birth weight. Adequate nursing results with him weighing within an ounce or two of his birth weight. This can take a couple of weeks.
- After your baby has regained his birth weight, he will begin to gain around four to seven ounces a week. This can vary, depending on your baby.
- After your baby latches on, he should begin to suck slowly. You will see and feel his jaw drop as he swallows.
- If your baby is rapidly sucking but not swallowing rhythmically and slowly, he is not getting enough milk.
3. Wet Diapers
- Your baby’s diapers are the best indicators for knowing if he is getting enough. Urine content shows the quantity of your milk; stool shows quality.
- He should be having four to six wet diapers per day.
- Six to eight if using cloth diapers
- Urine color can indicate hydration level
4. Dirty Diapers
- His bowel movements are also a good indicator.
- Your baby’s stool will change over the first few days as he gets used to his new diet.
- It will go from black to green and then brown. After a few days of nursing, the stool will become yellow and seedy. It should be the color of mustard and have a similar consistency to cottage cheese.
- Babies that are getting enough milk will have about two to three stools a day.
- Frequency decreases after two months or so. The stools will be once a day, but can also happen three to four days apart. This occurs when the gut matures.
5. Softer Breasts
- After nursing, you might notice that your breasts are softer. This means that they have been drained of milk, and your body is ready to produce more.
- Happy and content babies post-feeding is a good sign.
- If your baby is crying or sucking on his fingers after a full feeding, he might still be hungry.
- This could also be signs of colic or gas.
When to Get a Consult
1. For treatment of sore nipples
2. If you have trouble with positioning or latch on
3. For challenges such as:
- Birth of multiples
- Premature births
- Slow weight gain
- Breast surgery
- If you feel that your milk has not increased by the fourth day
- If you have concern over your baby’s stool or urine output
- If your baby is not sleeping or suckling well, or still seems hungry after feeding
- If your baby is not feeding about eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period.
What You Can Do
If you are nervous that your baby may not be getting enough breast milk, there are a few things you can do.
1. Feed More Often
- You can always feed your baby more often if you feel worried. Ensure that you do not try to force him to feed.
2. Hunger Cues
- Pay attention to hunger cues. One of the last signs of hunger is crying, so try not to let it get to that point.
- Recognize the signs of hunger. These include but are not limited to:
- Grabbing at your chest
- Sucking on toes, fingers, toys, et cetera
3. Proper Latching
- Improper latching can be frustrating for your baby and painful for you. Ensure that your baby is latching the right way.
- Keep a Diary
- Keeping track of your baby’s habits is a great way to know if something different is going on.
4. Get Help
- If you have not already seen a lactation specialist, calling your doctor and getting a recommendation for a lactation specialist is super helpful. He can put your worries at ease and teach you how to best care for your baby.
- Call your doctor if any of the following happens:
- Your baby is having no dirty or wet diapers
- Your baby produces dark colored urine after the first three days
- Your baby produces dark colored stools after four days
- Your baby has less wet or dirty diapers
- Your baby is nursing less frequently
- You have any symptoms of mastitis
There is no such thing as overfeeding your baby, at least to an extent. Nothing incredibly harmful comes about from it, but it still should be taken with caution. Forcing your baby to feed is a big no-no.
To ensure that your baby is getting enough breast milk, watch out for the signs. Things like hunger cues and weight gain can help with the transition to parenthood. The better you get to know your baby, the easier it will be to nourish him and to take care of his needs.
There are ways you can increase your baby’s feeding if you feel it is not enough. Asking for help from a lactation specialist can ease the stress you may be feeling. Additionally, keep a diary of your baby’s feeding habits. Knowing your baby and his ever changing patterns is important for pointing out things that are not so normal.
A happy, growing baby is what you should be experiencing. This vulnerable stage in his life is so important. Your job as a parent is to make sure that he is getting everything he needs. As long as you do this, he will have a happy and healthy life.