Is Your Baby Getting Enough Milk?

Many women feel that a disadvantage of breastfeeding is that our breasts are not see through and marked with indicators for ounces or milliliters.  Our breasts are very tricky, changing size and shape throughout our lives and particularly during pregnancy and lactation.  Though they are very soft in the first few days after birth, they are certainly not empty.  Your baby's tiny stomach can only hold about 10 mls a feed. If he is feeding well and often enough he should be able to get that much.  

Signs During The Feed

Your baby will get more milk easier if she is latched on properly.  Once she is, watch her sucking.  Her sucking will be short and choppy until the milk starts flowing.  As the milk flows, she should suck slowly, deeply and rhythmically.  You should see a pause in her chin as it reaches the widest part of the suck.  That pause indicates a swallow.  The pause will be longer or shorter depending on how much milk the baby is swallowing.  You may hear a soft "ca" sound as well.  You don't need to hear your baby gulping.  Most babies don't gulp milk especially during the first few days.  Your baby should suck and swallow for about 10 minutes of a feed either from one or both sides. Depending on your flow and how often the baby rests, ten minutes could take up to 40 minutes of being on the breast/breasts.

Count Your Baby's Diapers

Your baby's dirty diapers are an excellent indication that he is eating enough.  His first diapers will be filled with meconium, a black sticky substance that is already in his intestines at birth.  Though they are not made from colostrum, colostrum has a laxative effect that helps it come out. As your milk changes from colostrum to mature milk, your baby's stools will begin to lighten in color and become liquidy. This should happen around the 3rd or 4th day postpartum.  You can count dirty diapers according to your baby's age, that is, 1 diaper on day 1, 2 diapers on day 2 until day 4.  After that you should expect about 4 dirty diapers a day.  Stool should only be counted if it is as large as an American quarter, about 2.5 cms diameter.  If your baby's stool had not lightened up by the fifth day or remain scanty, seek professional help.

Wet diapers can help determine if your baby is properly hydrated.  Like dirty diapers, babies should have a wet diaper for each day of life, one on the first day, two on the second and so on until day six.  After day six, he should continue to have 6 wet diapers in 24 hours.  A diaper is wet if it has the weight of 3 Tbs of water in it.  Try spilling 3 Tbs of water into a clean dry diaper and feel the weight for comparison.  If your baby's diapers are dry - get help.

Your Baby's Weight

Most babies lose about 5 to 7 percent of their birth weight in the first few days.  Your baby should reach his lowest weight by day 4.  After that, average weight gain for a fully breastfed baby is around 6 ounces or 170 grams a week for the first four months.  After that weight gain slows down to approximately 4 ounces or 120 grams a week for the next two months and averages around 3 ounces or 85 grams a week until his first birthday.

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