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Every mom at some point has the same worry: is my baby getting enough to eat? Not just breastfeeding moms, ALL moms. How much should she eat? Is she getting enough breastmilk? How can I know I’m doing this right?
I’m not gonna lie, it would be really great if our breasts came with some sort of viewing window and ounce markers. That way we would know exactly how much he’s drinking each time he nurses. On the other hand, the rest of the time, that would just be…. well weird. Right? How many intimate moments would be ruined because of your ounce markers? Tell me I’m not the only one who thought that.
There are three no-fail methods for ensuring your baby is nursing well and getting enough breastmilk. I’m saying no-fail because – while one method alone might fail you – if you pay attention to all three then you can be confident that your baby is getting the nutrition she needs.
This can be tricky because it’s not always convenient to go weigh at the doctor’s office. You can buy a baby scale, but I really don’t recommend it. Mainly because it’s tempting to weigh baby several times a day, which can make you nuts in no time.
Another method is to step on your own scale, make a note of your weight, then hold the baby and weigh again. Subtract your first weight from the second weight and voila! There’s your baby’s weight!
Keep in mind that her weight is going to fluctuate just a tiny bit every day, just like yours does. Try to avoid the temptation to weigh her daily (or more) and opt instead to weigh once a week, twice max. Keep the weights written down so you can watch her growth progress.
If your baby is more than three days old and starts LOSE weight, call your pediatrician right away and provide them with the weight chart.
This is by far the easiest method for knowing that your little one is getting enough breastmilk. After all, what goes in must come out!
In the beginning, it’s a good idea to make extra sure that your baby has the diapers with a wetness indicator, that way it’ll be obvious when there’s a wet diaper to count (and you don’t accidentally count 2 wets as only 1).
Keep a tracking sheet right next to your changing table and track each diaper.
In the first couple of days, you’re only going to see one or two wet diapers. Totally normal. By day six, you should be seeing about six wet diapers a day. As for dirty diapers, the black stool she scared you with as on the first day should start transitioning to yellow. This is a very good sign. Around the time you see six wets a day, you should see about 4 dirties a day.
At around four to six weeks, the number of dirty diapers may change dramatically. Don’t freak out! It’s completely normal for a 1 to 2-month-old breastfed baby to start only pooping every few days to once a week. Keep an eye on her stool, and as long as it isn’t hard or painful for her then she’s not constipated.
I repeat – if your breastfed baby only poops once every few days, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s constipated!
When you see that your baby is having the optimum number of wet and dirty diapers, you can relax a little knowing that she’s not starving. That’s not to say she won’t ever have a less than satisfying meal, but babies tend to let you know when they’re hungry, which leads to…
A hungry baby is not a happy baby. If your baby is content after a feeding, chances are she got enough to eat.
Now you can go ahead and sigh and try to be content for the moment too.
If you’ve finished nursing and the baby isn’t happy, try burping first. If she’s still not happy and her diaper isn’t messy, offer the breast again.
Never mind if you think she “should be finished,” or if she completed the 12 minutes and 30 seconds she usually nurses. Sometimes that just doesn’t matter.
This could be a growth spurt; and when babies hit growth spurts, they want to nurse more often… and usually more at a time. Or she may just be hungrier than usual today. Don’t you ever have those days when you just want to eat?
Cluster feedings, where baby nurses every hour for 3 -5 hours and then she sleeps for 3 to 4 hours afterward, are also common, especially in the evening. If baby wants to cluster feed, just go with it… remember, a good solid rest usually follows. Check out Lansinoh’s article on cluster feeding. It’s got some great tips!
Unfortunately, there are babies that just aren’t content. Ever. If your child is gassy or colicky, or she has reflux, then she may not be content after eating. There are also babies who seem to never be satisfied in the evening. Once you know your baby and learn her signs, you’ll be able to spot when something is “off.”
NOTE: Newborns falling asleep at the breast is NOT a sign of contentment. Remember that newborns sleep a lot and they have a tendency to fall asleep before they’re truly finished nursing. So wake her up, she has a job to do!
You should be feeding your newborn 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. While you’re tracking wet and dirty diapers, it’s also a good idea to keep a log of nursing frequency.
- What time did she start?
- What time did she stop?
- Which side did she nurse from?
- Was she content afterward?
- Did she burp?
And try not to worry overmuch. I know this is hard. But one feeding is not going to permanently damage your baby. The whole picture is what we’re concerned with, and patterns of feedings will tell you what the whole picture is going to look like.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the panic of “Did I just feed her enough?” Try to remember that this one feeding isn’t what you need to be worried about. What does the pattern look like? Don’t trust your memory here, you need to be able to see it. This is why it’s so important to write it down!
Once you have a written record where you can see baby’s feeding patterns, you know baby’s weight is steadily climbing, she has enough wet and dirty diapers, and she’s mostly content after her feedings, then you can rest assured that your baby IS getting enough breastmilk. Now go ROCK this mom thing!
How do you find assurance that your baby is getting enough breastmilk? Comment below and share!