@mrsbendesky breastfeeding

image courtesy of @mrsbendesky

 

“Is my baby getting enough breastmilk?”  

 

It’s a classic concern common among new (and experienced) breastfeeding moms: Because there aren’t measurement markers on our breasts (wouldn’t that be amazingly convenient and awesome?!), we can’t really know exactly how much milk our babies receive when feeding. The good news is most women produce enough milk to nurse their babies successfully; only a small percentage of all breastfeeding mothers truly have a low milk supply. Here’s a handy Honest guide to ensure that your baby is getting what they need so you can get some peace of mind:

 

Weight Gain & Appearance

 

A 7-10% weight loss during the first 3-4 days after birth is considered normal for an exclusively breastfed baby. More than 10% can be an indication that the breastfeeding needs to be evaluated. It’s a good idea to have a routine weight check at 5 days (either with your pediatrician or with a lactation consultant) because by that point your baby should be gaining rather than losing.   Also, if you and your baby are experiencing any problems they can be caught and remedied early. Check out this handy chart to see how your baby’s weight gain is progressing (notice that it slows down as time progresses):

 

Age Weight Gain (Per Week)
0-3 months 4-7 ounces (110-200 grams)
4-6 months 4-5 ounces (110-140 grams)
6-12 months 2-4 ounces (60-110 grams)

 

In addition to weight gain, how does your baby look?  Sometimes babies do not follow their weight gain patterns for a week, but then they get back on track.  Or perhaps mom had a lot of IV fluids during labor, causing baby to be heavier at birth.  It’s important to look at how baby is doing so that nursing can continue during little “blips” in weight gain.  As always, consult your baby’s pediatrician with any concerns.  Some things to consider:

  • Is your baby eager to nurse?
  • Is your baby peeing and pooping well? (see below)
  • Are your baby’s eyes bright & alert?
  • Is your baby’s skin a healthy color and texture?
  • Is your baby meeting developmental milestones?

Diapers

Counting your baby’s diapers (pee and poop) can be a helpful tool for indicating whether or not he is getting enough of your breastmilk–what goes in, must come out! In general, babies will increase the volume and frequency of the pee and poop each day as they are able to take in more breastmilk and as the composition of the breastmilk changes to meet their needs. See the chart below for a quick reference about what to expect in the first few days/weeks.

If you suspect you aren’t making enough milk or your baby is not feeding well, call your doctor and a lactation consultant (IBCLC) right away.

 

Feeding & Diaper Goals

Breastfeeding P+P Chart

*Stools should be at least 2.5 cm (the size of a quarter) to “count.” If it’s just a little “smear” in the diaper, that’s not technically a stool.

Breastfeed Often

A baby needs to breastfeed frequently, including nighttime.  Your breastmilk is digested quickly and easily, and you only need small amounts to fill your baby’s tiny tummy. Check out our handy guide to your baby’s developing stomach sizes and feeding measurements below:

 

THC-Newborn-Stomach-Guide_FINAL

Frequent feedings also help to establish your milk supply.  This is the concept of supply and demand at its best—the more milk that is removed from your breasts, the more milk your body will produce. Frequent feedings are good for both of you!

  • A newborn should feed at least 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period.
  • Allow baby to determine the length of feedings: See our blog post on understanding your baby’s hunger and satiety cues for more information on baby led feedings.
  • Keep in mind that some babies “cluster feed,” which means that they go to the breast very often in a short period of time, and then sleep for several hours. This does not mean that you do not have enough milk for them; it’s a common feeding practice among infants. Sometimes, it’s a cue to your body to increase milk supply when your baby is about to enter a growth spurt. The number of feedings in a 24-hour period is more important than the spacing of feedings.
  • A sleepy baby may need to be wakened every two to three hours to feed.  You typically need to ensure that your (healthy) baby does not sleep through feedings for the first few months.  Talk with your healthcare provider if baby is lethargic and difficult to wake for feedings (or if you have any concerns in general).

 

Most importantly: Trust your instincts & relax! Remember that this is a time to savor each and every moment with your baby. Know that you are providing your baby not only with amazing nutrition, but also with a wonderful first bonding experience. Be aware that there are a range of breastfeeding experiences from mom to mom, and it may not always go as planned. (You’ll have to get used to that, too.) Next week, we got you covered with our tips to help with some of the common breastfeeding challenges, such as sore nipples, engorgement, low supply, and much more…

Let us know how breastfeeding is going for you in the comments below. We’d also love to hear if you have any breastfeeding-related topics that you’d like addressed in future blog posts!

 

-Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, CSP, CLC

 

References:
The Breastfeeding Atlas, Barbara Wilson-Clay, Kay Hoover. Austin, Texas: LactNews Press, 2013.

 

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  • Christine

    Where are those bottles from :)?

    • Sophia

      They have the Honest Company logo on them. I’m guessing the future ones?

  • Lisa

    Really enjoying your posts on breast feeding! Fantastic info for mummies!! And just what I needed to brush up on my skills! Baby bump on the way soon…breast fed my first child for 12 months but she’s now nearly 8 years old so I definitely need a little help revising! Would love any tips on expressing without disturbing baby’s current supply and also any advice on whether to feed from one or both breasts at each feeding…always found issues with that before. Thank you so much for your very helpful & thoughtful posts…looking forward to reading more 🙂

    • Nicole

      Hi Lisa! Thank you very much for your comment and CONGRATS on your baby on the way! I am thrilled you are enjoying our breastfeeding series and that they have been helpful for you. If you are trying to build a reserve, I would suggest pumping once a day (whenever it is convenient for you) in addition to your baby’s normal feeding schedule. This will help to increase your supply just enough to stash a little extra. When you are feeding your little one, remember to try to empty your breasts- so sometimes baby might feed on only one breast and sometimes both. Check out our article on understanding hunger & satiety cues for more info. Try to let your baby determine when the feeding is over. Happy feeding! ~Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, CSP, CLC

  • Michelle

    Really informative with great visual guides. Your knowledge of this topic is really great and I learned so much – thanks!

    • Nicole

      Thank you Michelle! I am so happy that this series has been helpful. Keep checking back as we post more information on all things related to baby feeding! ~Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, CSP, CLC

  • Marie

    I saw the post on your Facebook page asking people to offer up suggestions about what they wish they would have known about breastfeeding and to offer suggestions about what they would like to see more of. My personal breastfeeding journey was tough because I have severely inverted nipples. I knew from the moment that I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed my son, and I also knew that it would likely be a challenge. I searched and searched the internet for information and talked to my mid-wife for help and guidance on how to put my best foot forward and have the best chance for success. I was able to breastfeed for one week and pumped for an additional week and was unable to continue. I am planning for my second pregnancy and would love to find more information about how to best prepare my body to breastfeed my child. I can only imagine that there are hundreds of other women out there that would benefit from having more information about breastfeeding with inverted nipples.

    • Nicole

      Marie, Thank you for sharing your journey! Inverted nipples are a challenge that many women have and find that they have difficulties when it comes to latching their babies. The good news is that with the help of a trained IBCLC, generally breastfeeding is possible! Babies need to form a teat (and do not need a true nipple to do this). Consulting with an IBCLC to get the hang of the latching process is key. Sometimes, however, babies are not able to figure it out and pumping is an fantastic alternative whereby your baby still gets the benefit of your breastmilk! Look for more information to come on this topic! Be well mama!! Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, CSP, CLC.

    • michelle

      I don’t have inverted nipples, but apparently they’re really small, by baby wasn’t/isn’t latching onto them. Have you tried using a shield? I was given Some Medela ones in the hospital by the lactation consultants, they quirk great. A little pricy, $10 each, I tried another kind from Avent when I Got home, But the madela Was the best, Really thin material. O thought they were a pain at first, but now I’m so used to using them, it’s just second nature.and my baby’s only 16 days old, first time mom.Hope that helps!

    • Alicia Anderson

      I’m right there with you! I used the Avent Nipplet after my supply dried up to ready my breasts for the next baby. I won’t claim perfection now but I had third degree inversion and now they’re “normal”. Just follow the directions and once you get used to them, you can go for hours with them on. Use nipple cream to create a seal, and soft cups (I think that’s what they’re called) to keep your bra from grabbing at them. It’s worth the investment. My set was $40, the shields are $15-$20, and the nipple cream is pretty inexpensive. Just make sure not to use them if you’re expecting already.

  • Jadegelpack Heatorfreeze

    What I wished for when I was breast feeding is a quick relief pain and complications such as clogged ducts, engorgement and mastitis. After I tried everything on the market, my husband and I created and invented JadeGelPack.com

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  • Rachel

    My question is this: my baby is 10 months old and is quickly losing interest in nursing. I’m not convinced that she’s getting enough breast milk each day, simply because she’s eating so many solid foods and has so little interest (will nurse for 3-4 minutes, four times per day). Thoughts?

    • Nicole

      Hi Rachel! Oftentimes at 10 months, baby is taking much of her nutritional needs from solids AND is also extremely efficient at breastfeeding. Even though it seems like she is nursing for 3-4 minutes she might be getting a large volume in this time. The best thing to do is monitor output (wet and dirty diapers), growth (is she gaining weight well? does her pediatrician have any concerns?) and is she happy and well-appearing? If all of these things are going well then there is no cause for concern about her shortened nursing sessions. Keep us posted on how she does! ~Nicole Meadow, MPN, RD, CSP, CLC

  • Katie Wickham

    Interesting that this image of the bottles and stomach sizes is very similar to the one I created 2 years ago. Not cool to copy others intellectual property. https://www.facebook.com/BabiesFirstLactationAndEducation/photos/a.447779968601133.121318.419075058138291/580169968695465/?type=3&theater

    • Hi Katie,

      We wanted to reach out to you personally regarding your concerns about our recent newborn stomach capacity image and assure you that we have no intention of copying your intellectual property.

      First and foremost, thanks for reading our blog and participating in the Honest online community. At Honest, we always strive to support the work of those who are contributing to education surrounding baby and child development. The visual depiction that compares a newborn stomach to the size of common foods is an idea and educational tool and graphic that has been repeated in many variations across the internet and in other lactation resources. In her previous work at CHLA, for example, our in-house dietitian and lactation consultant also constructed visuals that were of the same likeness — bottles next to foods to help mothers understand the concept that they do indeed have enough milk for their babies.

      We think our visual display is different from your photo in that our image contains unique artistic elements, such as our colorful bottles, incorporation of different objects and arrangements, as well as our use of light, color and display.

      We hope you continue to enjoy our blog and contribute to the lactation community.

  • Alicia Anderson

    I wish people would talk about tongue tie when they talk about breastfeeding. It’s a real issue. Also, flat or inverted nipples can and will most likely cause issues with breastfeeding. My “lactation consultant” told me neither of those will cause any issue whatsoever. Bologna! Please address these issues whenever you talk about breastfeeding!

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  • Jesse Seidel-Iaquilino

    I’m about to have my second and this is just.. wow.. I had so much trouble with my first and breastfeeding due to inverted nipples. At the hospital the nurses were trying to figure out why my little one couldn’t eat so they watched. My nipples would retreat. Their solution was to use a bottle nipple over mine like a shield so he could nurse. And oh the pain it caused, it was the worst thing ever. I had to pump and feed which lasted 4 months before my boobs just gave up cold turkey one day. This does so much to reassure me, this time around, a better pump and better knowledge will help!

    • Heather Dean

      An actual bottle nipple and not a nipple shield???! OUCH.

  • mayra

    I am expecting my first baby and I am learning so much on these posts. Thank you Honest team for all this handy info!

  • Kari

    How much should I be feeding my 4.5 month old? For reference, I’m still breastfeeding him all day long, but he acts hungry. He has a tongue and lip tie which I know makes it harder for him to eat, but we have an appointment with a specialist to try to correct that next month. I’ve been supplementing once a day with formula, so I’m excited to see this new product because most of the formulas on the market have terrifying ingredients in them, and I feel so guilty feeding them to him.

    • paapeseed

      According to Kellymom.com (a reliable wealth of knowledge about everything breastfeeding), between 1 month & 6 months, exclusively breastfed babies need about 25oz of breastmilk per day.

  • Tara Aes

    The feeding and diaper goals chart says days 1-6, then jumps to week 6. What about weeks 2-5? Liked the rest of the article!

  • Bethany

    I like the thought of organic baby formula and I formula fed my son who was my first baby. And now I’m exclusively bf my daughter but I fed my son similac and he’s healthy & just fine. This is a nice thing for people with a lot of money but we don’t have a lot of money to buy organic formula. I don’t think they would sell other brands of formula if they gave my baby cancer or health issues. He’s healthy as can be!

    • MattJess Weber

      I don’t know if formula causes cancer per se. I think what people are trying to get across is the more close to nature something is, obviously the healthier it is for you. So breastfeeding is best, plant based second best, made in a lab least best. BUT us as Mommy’s need to support each other because not everyone does have the same means. I’m pregnant right now and am very pro breastfeeding and pro all natural. I breastfed my first born for over a year. I have to say I am so nervous about something going wrong even though it is my second time around because I don’t want to use formula but I am a stay at home Mom and I don’t know if we can afford organic formula. We all just have to do our best with what we have <3

  • Susan Pennington

    Does anyone have any recommendations for the organic rice cereal? I have rea d that some of them have arsenic in them…I want the purest there is! 🙂 I wish Honest would sell some. Anyone?

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  • Susie Medina

    My baby is gaining weight ( about 1 oz a day). She likes to sleep long sometimes four hours, but when she’s awake she likes to feed for a long time. Should I still be waking her up. It’s kind of hard to do that. I have her weighed at least once a week. She has enough diapers per day, also.

  • Klara

    How can u make sure to keep breastfeeding and have enough milk what kind food and diet should I eat and what foods helps to increase my milk help please

  • TS

    My 3 week old is nursing every 1-1.5hrs. During the day he sometimes sleeps for 2 hr intervals but he’s up every hour at night, wanting to feed. I know my milk supply is good because I hear him swallow and I’m still able to pump after feedings. I just wish he would sleep!

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  • Jenny Bronson

    Nice blog. Also Coconut have ability to decrease breast milk in breastfeeding mothers. Try this home remedies to lower breast milk.

  • wu zhantao

    Thanks for sharing about this breastfeeding

  • Dona

    I regret that I haven’t read anything that would prepare me for breastfeeding when my first baby was born but I certainly don’t regret that I decided to use this method of feeding. But one is sure – it’s not that easy. When I was pregnant for the first time I was sure I wanted to breastfeed and I didn’t think I need to prepare for it. Now I know that it’s so not true! I had problems at the beginning of breastfeeding and I dropped it!. When I was pregnant with my second daughter I knew I need to be prepared for this task. My friend told me about Susan Urban’s guide “How to make breastfeeding pleasant and easy” ( http://www.parental-love.com ). She said it’s great because after reading it she knew exactly what to do when she had problems. She told me that I should read it and I did. She was right! This guide was awesome! Helped me so much with breastfeeding. I was confident and well-prepared. I knew how to deal with problems that may occur. Every new mom or mom to be should read it. Such a great help!

    • Kim Blom

      you were right about this guide – really good one with all the answers and tips and help! Definitely worth to recommend