The most common question every new breastfeeding mother has – Is my baby getting enough breastmilk? Knowing how important the breast milk is for the child’s health, no doubt it is the top-most concern for a new mom.
Since there is no way for you to determine how much milk your body is producing, and how much your baby is consuming, you have no direct means to check, if your baby has fed enough.
Babies cry for a lot of reasons and hunger is just one of them. They could cry because of colic, or due to uncomfortable clothing or due to a dirty diaper or gas in stomach or due to stranger anxiety. For a new mother, the cries are difficult to interpret, and you may feel that your baby has not fed enough.
To add to the confusion, babies never mind latching onto the mother’s breast for security and comfort, if not for actual feeding. So, how do you really determine that your baby is crying out of hunger or if there could be any other reason?
Well, each baby shows unique signs to communicate when they are hungry. My daughter used to scratch her head and cry, whenever she was hungry. Some of the common signs that babies display are:
The breastfeeding pattern is different for every baby. Some babies need to be fed every 3 hours, and some don’t. Some latch to the breast very well, and some face difficulties. But most women produce enough milk, to successfully feed their babies throughout the day.
But as a mother, how can you make sure that your baby has fed enough? Here are some tips that will help you to find out if your baby has enough breast milk.
Wet diapers are a reliable indicator that all is well with your baby. Your baby should pass urine at least 6-8 times a day, or after every feed i.e. your baby should wet at least 6-8 cloth diapers or 4-6 disposable diapers.
If your baby’s urine is dark in color, like the color of apple juice, it means your baby is not hydrated enough, and probably not feeding well. If the urine is pale or water- color, it means your baby is getting enough breast milk.
If the baby has fed well, it would pass stools which are yellow and seedy. Dark-colored stools indicate dehydration. Some infants pass stools after every feed, and some pass it once a day. Sometimes, a baby might not pass stools for a day or two, and that is perfectly normal. But the colour and consistency of the stools, is what matters.
Most infants, whether breastfed or bottle-fed, will lose some weight within the first few days of their lives. However, if the baby is feeding well, he should have regained his birth weight by within 2 weeks. The baby would continue to gain weight if it receives sufficient milk from you.
This might also interest you: Breastfeeding Guide for the first month of baby
If you can see/hear the baby swallowing after sucking for few times, it indicates she is receiving enough milk from you. If your baby is not getting milk, she may be just sucking the nipples, but not swallowing. She might even fall asleep during feeding if there is no milk supply.
It is better to check if your baby has latched well to suck the milk, or if it is just nibbling at the nipple. Many times, babies nibble your nipple for comfort and security of being close to the mother. If your baby makes clicking noises during breastfeeding, it is an indication that she is not latched on properly.
If your baby is alert, looks content, and active after breastfeeding, it is a sign that her tummy is full. But if a baby has long feedings that lasts longer than an hour, or wants frequent feedings, with less than an hour’s gap, then it may be a sign of your baby not getting enough milk.
After your baby is done with feeding, your breasts will feel softer than before. Once you start feeding, the heaviness or the pain in the breast should reduce after the first few sucks.
Sometimes, your nipple looks slightly elongated due to constant sucking, after breastfeeding your baby. However for some, nipple size does not change after breastfeeding, and hence cannot be taken as an accurate criterion.
A well-fed baby has a healthy color, and has firm skin which bounces back if you pinch it gently. If your baby’s skin still remains wrinkled and the face has not filled out, it indicates that she is underfed.
The above tips are just to help you determine if your child is feeding breastmilk well. Breastfeeding is a confidence game, and you should always be confident that you will produce enough milk to meet your baby’s requirement.
Do not get concerned, if your baby asks for frequent feeds, or nurses frequently. Asking for frequent feeds might be just for seeking closeness and comfort of breastfeeding, as well as the security of being with the mother. Nursing frequently may indicate that your baby has a growth spurt. Call your pediatrician, to know about growth spurts, and the typical age they can occur.
So, as long as your baby is wetting enough diapers in a day, is active and looks content, do not get too worried about frequent feeds and longer feeds.
However, if you notice two or more of the above-mentioned signs of an underfed baby, reach out to the pediatrician immediately. You can also visit a Lactation Consultant, who will advise you on ways to increase your milk production.
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