How To Know If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
Breastfeeding for many mothers is a learned skill and may take time and practice but you will become more confident when breastfeeding as your baby gets older. Remember – every breastfeed is of benefit to your baby.
Breastmilk is the most natural food for your baby, it offers strong protection against infection and when you breastfeed a very special bond is formed with your little one. There is a wide range of breastfeeding support available.
When your baby is first born your midwife at your local maternity hospital will help you to begin your breastfeeding journey. Many of these hospitals employ International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) who are also there to assist you if necessary. It is really important to get support and assistance in these early days while you learn to correctly position and attach your baby to your breast.
The first milk you produce is called colostrum, which is often referred to as baby’s first immunisation because it is so rich in nutrients and energy. It’s present in small amounts and as your baby’s tummy is so tiny, you will need to breastfeed your baby quite often to help increase your milk supply.
Newborns Feed Often
A newborn baby’s stomach is only the size of a cherry, so they need to feed quite often. The more often your baby feeds, the more milk you will produce. This is why responsive feeding is important and it involves you breastfeeding in response to your baby’s early feeding cues, which are, stirring, mouth opening, turning their head from side to side and rooting. Crying is a late feeding cue. Responsive feeding is also called demand or baby led feeding.
In the early days and weeks, babies breastfeed many times by day and by night, often 10 -12 times or more in 24 hours. Your baby may have a good feed and be hungry again quite quickly. Babies go through different patterns of feeding as they grow. The length of time an individual baby takes to feed will also vary from feed to feed.
How Will I Know If My Baby Is Getting Enough Milk?
According to www.breastfeeding.ie from the HSE, babies can lose an average of 7% of their birth weight in the first three days after birth.
Signs that your baby is getting enough milk during these early days include:
- they wake easily,
- they have a strong cry and move actively when awake,
- they settle and sleep at some stage in a 24 hour period, and
- they have regular wet and dirty nappies.
Breastfeeding in response to your baby’s early feeding cues will ensure that they’re content and getting the milk they need, when they need it. It is a good idea certainly in the early days and weeks until you become more confident, to observe your baby’s wet and dirty nappies!
Your Baby's Wet And Dirty Nappies
The number of wet and dirty nappies your baby produces will change during the first week. These changes will assist you to know if feeding is going well.
What to expect from day one:
One wet nappy + (over 24 hours) and one stool + (black).
Two wet nappies + and two stools + (black).
Three wet nappies + and three stools + (black or greenish).
Four wet nappies + and three to four stools + (greenish or yellowish).
Five wet nappies + and stools turn yellow in colour.
Early Days Are Important for Breastfeeding
Days two to four.You can expect to be breastfeeding your baby quite frequently by day and by night as your baby wakes up more and your milk supply is increasing. These early days of frequent feeding are important as they help you to build a good milk supply and it helps you and your baby to learn the skill of breastfeeding.
It also gives you the chance to relax with your baby and get to know each other. Be sure to sleep when baby sleeps, and remember that frequent feeds are completely normal, and it gets easier in the following days. Support from family and friends is important for you at this stage.
Day three. By day three, your breasts will feel fuller, and may feel warm, achy and tender. Your milk will begin to change from a golden yellow colour and viscous consistency to a whiter colour and thinner consistency. This is often called ‘your milk coming-in’.
This later milk also contains lots of antibodies and other properties which provide protection to you baby against illness and infection as well as providing all the food and drink your baby needs to grow and develop. For mums who’ve had a Caesarean birth, your milk coming in may be delayed by a day or so.
According to www.breastfeeding.ie from the HSE, it’s normal for breasts to feel full in the first week or two, but this will settle down when your body gets used to the supply and demand element of feeding.
If you need to express breastmilk for your baby in the early days your nurse or midwife is there to support and assist you.
How Do I Know If My Baby Is Hungry?
Babies give a lot of subtle cues that they are ready to feed, as mentioned earlier these are called the early feeding cues and you will quickly learn what your baby is trying to tell you. Visit www.breastfeeding.ie to see an infographic on baby’s early and late feeding cues.
Many mothers in the early days and weeks make a note of which side they started on last, but after a while you become much more confident. Most importantly, trust your instincts.
Every Breastfeed Makes a Difference
This article has been sponsored by the HSE. Go to the HSE website www.breastfeeding.ie for more information on breastfeeding and answers to common questions. There is also the Ask Our Expert facility where you can email your question regarding breastfeeding to the online Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) or alternatively you can chat online with the IBCLCs using the webchat facility.