Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?

Ahh, the age old question. I dare say, nearly every breastfeeding mother has wondered at some point if her baby was getting enough milk. Whether it’s because her baby won’t stop crying, is sleeping more than usual, not gaining weight fast enough, or maybe she thought everything was just fine until her mother in-law showed up and pointed out that Baby was nursing too much so he must not be getting enough milk. You know what I have to say about all that? Stop it. Stop it right now. Let’s shut down this narrative that gets fed to new moms by the truckload, that makes them question their every move.

If you are wondering if your baby is getting enough milk, I’m going to share with you a few basic signs that Baby is, in fact, getting plenty of that liquid gold. And what to do if they’re not. But they probably are so let’s not go there just yet. 🙂 Then we’ll look at a few other possibilities for what might be the real reason your baby won’t stop crying, or cluster feeding, or gaining weight slowly, or doing any number of things that normal, healthy babies do.

Does your infant seem hungry ALL. THE. TIME?
  1. How much does Baby pee and poop?

Let’s just say you took your 2 month-old, happy, breastfed baby to the pediatrician with no prior inkling that you weren’t producing enough milk for your baby. Then out of nowhere, you are informed that your baby is not gaining enough weight and you will need to start supplementing with formula. Huh?

So now, out of the blue, you’re worried about your baby’s health, you realize you’ve been starving them this whole time, you’re googling ways to get your milk supply up, you’re researching the best formula brands, you’re buying all the bottles to find the one Baby likes best, and you’re just a hot mess all of a sudden. Hold on a second. Remember that happy baby you had this morning? They’re still there. The only thing that’s changed is that you’ve been shown a growth chart that very likely was created based on the research conducted on formula fed infants. Yes, read that again. Today’s growth charts are still based largely on formula fed babies and how they gain weight.

Let’s look at the signs. How much pee and poop do you deal with on a daily basis? Is your baby producing at least 8-10 wet and/or dirty diapers per day? Here’s a little (not so) secret: What goes in must come out! If your breastfed baby is taking in plenty of milk, they should be peeing and pooping enough to fill at least 8-10 diapers per day.

Pro Tip:

First thing in the morning, stack 10 diapers beside your changing area. If they are gone by the end of the day, then Baby is producing plenty of pee and poop.

plenty of feeding = plenty of pooping!

So, what could be another reason for slow weight gain? Well, first off, let’s stop comparing exclusively breastfed babies to formula-fed babies. Exclusively breastfed babies tend to take a little longer to get back to birth weight, especially if they took in any extra fluids during birth (IV fluids during induction, epidural or c-section). Colostrum, or “newborn milk” is very thick and takes a while for Baby to digest, so there isn’t much of it, and it doesn’t add much weight in the first few days. Once your “mature milk” comes in, Baby will begin to pee and poop a whole lot more, showing you that they are indeed getting all the milk they need. Ask your lactation specialist for a weighted feed at your consultation. From there, we can monitor your baby’s growth and make sure they’re gaining enough weight and growing well.

2. Does Baby seem satisfied after a feeding?

After a good long feeding, you should see your baby’s whole body relax. Their hands should be open and loose. They may have a hard time staying awake. They should be the one to end the feeding. If they still seem hungry, trying offering the other breast. Watch for these common feeding cues to know when it’s time to eat again:

  • tight fists
  • sucking on hands
  • rooting with mouth
  • kicking feet
  • REM sleep (movement of the eyes while asleep)
  • fussiness

If you feel that your baby is never truly satisfied after a feeding, it’s time to contact a lactation specialist to make sure he is well attached and transferring milk properly. Click here to schedule a consult with me, online or in person.

Don’t watch the clock. Watch your baby!

3) How’s the latch?

Babies need to be well attached in order to transfer enough milk and increase your milk supply. Check for these signs that your baby is latched deeply and drinking well:

  • wide open mouth
  • no bubbles, gaps or slurping sounds
  • lips flanged out
  • head tilted back
  • chin snuggled into breast
  • nose free

Check to see if Baby is swallowing after every 1-2 sucks. You should be able to see a rhythmic suck/swallow/breathe pattern, with pauses every now and then. When Baby swallows, do you see their chin move and hear a gentle “keh” sound? An effective latch should not be painful. If it hurts, or if Baby keeps popping on and off the breast, it may be time to schedule a lactation consult.

Last but certainly not least, what do YOU think? Do you feel that your child is getting plenty of milk, growing well, and generally a happy baby? Well then, that’s all I need to hear. Follow your instincts, Mama. You were made for this. You know your baby better than any of us. Trust yourself and your own judgement and know that I’ve always got your back. And your boobs.

Happy feeding!

-Ali

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