Many Mother’s Are Often Left Wondering if Their Baby is Getting Enough Breast Milk?
It is difficult to determine how much milk your baby is drinking while on the breast and mom’s are often worried that their baby isn’t getting enough to eat. A newborn will eat every two to three hours for the first few weeks of life. They will eat until they feel satisfied. Some baby’s are very efficient and eat quickly while others take their time on the breast. There is no reason to be concerned as long as your baby isn’t left unsatisfied. Your baby will let you know if they are unsatisfied and aren’t getting enough breast milk.
Learn Babies Hunger Cues
Many new mothers are scared that they don’t know how to tell if their baby is hungry or has another unmet need. Babies don’t come home from the hospital with instruction manuals and it is up to mom’s to learn how their baby communicates their needs. A baby can only tell its mom and dad that they need something by crying. However, if a baby is hungry he or she will exhibit additional hunger cues.
- Sucking on Fists
- Smacking Lips
- Rooting (Turning head towards shoulder)
- Opens Mouth
- Starts Fussing
Late Hungry Cues:
- Heavy Crying
- Sleeping too much due to lack of energy
These hungry cues can help you determine if your baby is hungry. Hunger cues are another way that a baby communicates to their parents since they are unable to tell us what they need.
How To Determine if My Baby is Drinking Enough Milk
There are several ways to help a mother determine if a baby is getting enough milk and nutrients in order to grow. Use these tips to help you:
- Pulling Off the Breast – If a baby is constantly pulling off your breast and arching his or her back, the baby is frustrated because they aren’t getting enough milk or they might have a medical condition such as reflux that needs medical attention.
- Side of Cheek is Wet – When a baby nurses, he or she will have a wet cheek. This will let mom’s know that they have milk in their breasts and that the baby is getting milk.
- Diapers – A baby will go through 6 – 10 diapers a day. A breastfeed baby should produce a minimum of 6 wet diapers during the day, if they don’t you should seek the advice of your child’s doctor or health care professional. Babies can quickly dehydrate, so any sign of dehydration needs immediate attention.
- Crying – If a baby is constantly crying and is inconsolable. If the baby is in the late stages of hungry cues and is heavily crying, you should attempt to put them to the breast and see if the baby will latch on. If the baby won’t latch on, try putting a tiny amount of milk on your finger and put it in baby’s mouth. The taste of milk should help them calm down and nurse. However, if the baby is still crying try to figure out why they are crying: is baby overtired, over stimulated, gas, or other illness/pain. Check their toes and fingers for hairs wrapped around them possibly cutting off circulation.
- Weigh Gain Problems – A baby will go to the doctor for well baby checks several times during the first few weeks of life. Part of the reason for these frequent checks, besides getting shots, the doctor is checking your baby’s growth patterns. This allows the doctor to examine their weight gain, height, and head circumference. The doctor will tell you if your baby is having problems with their weight gain.
- Weigh Baby Before and After Feedings – Purchase an infant scale or contact your local lactation consultant for assistance. Measure the baby’s weight before you begin feeding the baby. Then feed your baby as normal. After your baby is finished eating, then weight the baby again. Subtract the end weight from the beginning weight and you can estimate how many ounces of milk that your baby drank. This number will vary from baby to baby, a new baby might only drink an ounce or two at a time where as a 9 month old might drink 5-7 ounces at a time.
- Use a Breast Pump – Pumping breast milk from your breasts can help a mother estimate how much milk a baby is drinking at a time. Feed your baby the pumped milk and see if he or she is satisfied. Note: this is only an rough estimate of the amount of milk that they drink in one feeding because a baby is more efficient at expressing milk from the breast, so it is possible that they drink more from the breast.
- Use a Supplemental Nursing System – If your doctor has advised you that your baby is having issues gaining weight, the use of a supplement nursing system will allow you to continue to breast feed your baby and provide additional nutrients at the same time. This system attaches to your nipple and breast using a small tube. The tubes come in a wide variety of flows depending on your babies need. This system also allows babies with special needs to still have the opportunity to breastfeed without mom having to exclusively pump for her baby. You can use formula or breast milk in this system.