New moms, while still trying to get accustomed to breastfeeding, may often wonder if the baby is getting enough milk. This is quite normal as every mother wants their baby properly nourished and unlike with bottle feeding, where you can measure the precise quantity of milk to feed the baby, it is difficult to ascertain how much milk your baby takes in during breastfeeding. And in case the baby is on exclusive breastfeeding, it is important to make sure that she gets enough.
However, it is important to note that every woman has a different breastfeeding experience. Some women may have a low milk supply whereby, it takes quite some time for the milk to come and when it comes it is not enough. Some women on the other hand produce more milk than their babies can consume, this is commonly referred to as hyperlactation. Your baby will pull milk from the milk ducts usually located behind the areola and in doing so, she will need significant tissue of the breast and not just the nipple inside her mouth to latch to satisfaction. Remember, it is called breastfeeding/nursing and not nipple feeding. Babies too are different. Some babies are fast eaters while others are very slow and it is paramount to find out if your baby is still feeding or just pacifying.
As a mother, there may be times that you wonder “why is she nursing this much today?”, or ” what’s causing her to nurse less this morning?”. The time your baby takes on the breasts is not the representation of the exact amount of milk she ingests and her appetite will differ relying on whether she wants a full meal or just to snack.
In such a confusing scenario, every mama should look out for certain indications that the milk supply is sufficient and that the baby is getting enough at every feed. All you have to do is identify the clues as I will be showing you in this article.
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What your baby knows about breasts
Babies know a lot more about breasts than we think. They are born with the skills and intuitions to make nursing work for them just like other mammals.
A fussy baby will snuggle into your chest when you pick her up and lift her head or throw it back and we always imagine that it is because the muscles around her neck aren’t that strong yet, but researchers who have assessed many babies say it is part of how the baby orients herself.
They vary their feeding patterns to make sure that the milk they get meets their needs.
How long to let a baby feed?
Even though the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have recommended timelines for breastfeeding, only one-third of moms follow them.
Newborn babies should breastfeed 8-12 times per day for the first month of life for up to 20 minutes or longer on one or both breasts because breast milk is effortlessly absorbed thus leaving them hungry often.
By the time your baby is 1-2 months old, she will most likely feed 7-9 times a day for 5-10 minutes on each side.
In the baby’s first few weeks of life, breastfeeding should be on-demand, about every 1-3 hours. As they get older, they will nurse less often, and their routine may become dependable.
Some might feed every 90 minutes, while others might go every 2-3 hours between feeding, but they should never go more than 4 hours without nursing and this includes overnight similarly.
How do I know my baby is done nursing?
The early days of learning how much to feed your baby may be very stressful. Just as there are clear signs that your baby is hungry, there are also signs that she is full, and here’s what to look out for.
Baby beginning to fall asleep
Some babies, upon feeding to their fill, may soothe themselves to sleep. Because of their tiny stomach, they may achieve gratification fast.
Baby slowing down her sucking
Your baby may switch to slower and lighter suckling with longer pauses in between. This may indicate her satisfaction.
Baby gets easily distracted
When the baby starts to look around at everything and smiles at everyone present instead of drinking milk, it indicates that she may be hungry no more.
Baby’s hands are open
At the end of nursing, if your baby’s hand is relaxed and fingers pointed out, it might be her way of telling you that she is already satisfied.
Baby’s body feels at ease
When your baby’s body starts to relax and feel at ease after feeding, be rest assured that she is well on her way to filling up her tummy.
Baby lets out a wet burp
Most, but not all babies experience wet burps after feeds. This is a mixture of milk and the saliva dribbling out of your baby’s mouth.
Hiccups occur, thanks to reflux when food and acid can mix due to the fullness of the stomach. Experts believe that when this happens, the baby’s stomach is too full.
Baby turning away from the breast
If your baby pushes the nipple out using her tongue or tries to turn her head away from the breasts, then she is probably full.
Letting go of the breast
Your baby may cease to suck and discharge the breast, this is a clear indication that the baby is full and can not feed any longer.
Signs that your baby is getting enough milk
Almost all breastfeeding moms worry about whether they are producing enough milk to feed the baby. But they all should realize that in case they are encountering low milk supply in the beginning, they will start to generate more as the baby starts to feed more often as the production of milk works on the law of demand and supply.
Just ensure your posture is comfortable and a proper latching with a mouthful of the breast for your diva.
A few indications that your baby is getting enough milk include but are not limited to
Your baby’s steady weight gain is the clearest indication that she is getting enough breast milk. The baby’s weight should notably increase even though weight loss during the first few days of birth is common. By 6 months, the baby should double their birth weight.
You will have more wet diapers with a baby getting enough breast milk. A minimum of 8 diaper changes in 24 hours is a good indication that your baby is having her fill.
You may notice the movement of her lower jaw while nursing which indicates a good feeding session and you might as well hear some small gulping sounds. All this is positive feedback.
After feeding, if your breast appears softer and lighter instead of heavy and perky, then it is a clear indication that the baby has consumed all the milk that was in your breast.
The frequency of feeding may decrease as the baby grows but generally, a newborn may need around 10-12 feeds in a day as I suggested earlier. This may be higher during growth spurts and it is advisable to follow the breastfeeding frequency indicator to establish if your baby is properly fed.
Your baby may start sleeping for a longer duration and peacefully without interruption. Even previously hard to soothe babies will start to calm down signaling a satisfying nursing session.
Baby’s bowel movements
Babies who are solely on breast milk are more likely to “poop” regularly. In case the baby is adequately fed, the color of her stool will appear to be darker than the traditional yellow within the second week of birth.
Your baby may respond to a satisfying nursing session by touching her face and even rubbing your chest as she feeds. At the end of the feeding, she will look active and happy, a sure sign of contentment.
The physical act of nursing is more than just the milk produced as you will find out when you hold your little one in your arms. It is nutrition, warmth, and love all rolled up into one.
It has many benefits for both mother and child. Studies show that breastfeeding can lessen a baby’s chances of bacterial meningitis, diarrhea, ear infections, or greatly reduce the severity of the symptoms. It may also protect them from asthma, obesity, child diabetes and can greatly reduce the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
For moms, it burns calories and helps shrink the uterus. A nursing mom may return to her pre- pregnancy shape and weight quicker. It also helps in reducing the risks of diseases such as breast cancer, high blood pressure, etc.
Be sure to leave your feedback in the comments section down below and let us know how your nursing journey is for you, and your tot.