Is Your Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?

You will know your baby is getting enough breast milk if: Your newborn has frequent bowel movements.

      • Typically, the stools are loose and change from black to brown to mustard-yellow in color in the first five days.
      • Breastfed babies vary in stool patterns, but by their third day of life, they will usually have at least 2 to 3 stools in a 24 hour period. At five days old, most breastfed babies have at least four yellow, seedy stools per day. Older babies vary. Some have a bowel movement every day, while other babies have bowel movements every few days.
      • There are also wet diaper patterns:
        • Day 1 = one wet diaper
        • Day 2 = 2 wet diapers
        • Day 3 = 3 wet diapers, and so on
        • Day 6 and older = 6 to 8 wet diapers in a 24-hour period. (After your milk increases, the urine will soak the diaper.)
        • Your baby’s urine is pale in color.
        • You can hear your baby swallowing the milk.
        • Your baby is calm and relaxed after eating.
        • Your baby is gaining weight. Many babies may lose up to 7 to 10 percent of their birth weight during their first days of life. Babies are born with fat reserves and usually regain the weight by two weeks of age. Frequent around-the-clock feedings will help prevent a major drop in weight.
        • Your breasts feel softer after feeding.

Frequency- How Often to Breastfeed?

Newborn babies want to feed on demand, usually 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period for the first two to four weeks. While breastfeeding, be careful of well-meaning family and friends who encourage you to breastfeed less often. Watch your baby for feeding cues, such as increased alertness or activity, mouthing, rooting and suckling.. If your baby is sleeping and does not show feeding cues in three hours during the day, try to wake your baby.

  • You should feed your baby throughout the day and night.
  • For sleepy babies, your healthcare provider may tell you to wake your baby every three hours for feedings until your baby has regained his/her birth weight.
  • Do not give pacifiers to lengthen the time between feedings. Watch for feeding cues (examples listed above). Crying is a late sign of hunger and makes breastfeeding much harder.

Duration- The length of each feeding

During the newborn period, most breastfeeding sessions take 20 to 45 minutes. However, because newborn babies are often sleepy, this length of time may require patience and persistence. Feed on the first side until your baby stops suckling, hands are no longer fisted, and your baby appears sleepy and relaxed. When these occur, break the suction, burp the baby and go to the other side. Continue to feed your baby until he/she stops the feeding at the second breast. Alternate the side you start with for the next feeding.

While most babies will feed from both breasts at each feeding, some babies will be satisfied after one breast. Watch for long, slow sucks with swallows by the baby.

It is normal for babies to “cluster feed,” meaning they feed several times close together and then go several hours without feeding. During the first days of life, normal, healthy newborns may breastfeed every hour or several times in one hour, especially during the evening and nighttime hours. Your baby should be satisfied after cluster feedings.

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