Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is your baby getting enough milk?

Breast-feeding: Is your baby getting enough milk?

If you're breast-feeding, you may wonder whether your baby is getting enough milk. Ask yourself these questions — and know when to seek help.

By Mayo Clinic staff
When you're breast-feeding, you can't measure the amount of milk your baby takes at each feeding — but that's OK. You can watch for reassuring signs that your baby is getting enough to eat.

Cover the basics

When you're breast-feeding, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is my baby gaining weight? Steady weight gain is often the most reliable sign that a baby is getting enough to eat. Although most babies lose weight soon after birth, it's typically regained — and then some — within 10 days to two weeks. Your baby will be weighed at each checkup. If you're concerned about your baby's weight, you may want to schedule more frequent weigh-ins.
  • How often does my baby breast-feed? Most newborns breast-feed eight to 12 times a day — about every two to three hours. By six to eight weeks after birth, your baby will probably begin to go longer between feedings. During growth spurts, your baby may take more at each feeding or want to breast-feed more often. Trust your body's ability to keep up with the increased demand. The more often your baby nurses, the more milk your breasts produce.
  • Can I hear my baby swallowing? If you listen carefully, you'll be able to hear your baby swallowing. Also look for a strong, steady, rhythmic motion in your baby's lower jaw. A small amount of milk may even dribble out of your baby's mouth.
  • How do my breasts feel? When your baby is latched on successfully, you'll feel a gentle pulling sensation on your breast — rather than a pinching or biting sensation on your nipple. Your breasts may feel firm or full before the feeding, and softer or emptier afterward. If breast-feeding hurts, ask your baby's doctor or a lactation consultant for help.
  • What about my baby's diapers? By the fourth day after birth, expect your baby to have six to eight wet diapers a day. Also expect regular bowel movements — often three or more a day. The stool will be dark and sticky for the first couple of days, eventually becoming seedy, loose and golden yellow.
  • Does my baby seem healthy? A baby who seems satisfied after feedings and is alert and active at other times is likely getting enough milk. Also look for a healthy skin tone. 

Trust your instincts

You know your baby best. If you sense something isn't right, contact your baby's doctor — especially if your baby:
  • Isn't gaining weight
  • Isn't wetting six to eight diapers a day or having regular bowel movements
  • Is consistently fussy after feedings
  • Seems sleepy all the time
  • Isn't interested in breast-feeding
  • Spits up forcefully or more than a small amount at a time
Remember, every baby is unique. You may be surprised by your baby's feeding patterns. As long as your baby grows and develops normally, however, you can be sure that you're meeting his or her nutritional needs.

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