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Understanding the Amount of Breast Milk

The first step to making sure your baby is getting enough milk is to keep a daily log of breastfeeding. Keeping a daily log will be helpful for your pediatrician when you go in for your first visit.

It is also important to encourage your baby to nurse on each breast at each feeding, allowing your baby to nurse as long as he/she wants on one, then offer the other. Do not limit your baby's feedings.

This is especially important when you are producing mature milk which is made up of foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk, produced at the beginning of the feeding, is high in volume but low in fat and calories. Hindmilk, produced at the end of the feeding, is creamier and higher in fat and calories. It is best to let your baby decide when to switch breasts.

Feeding Patterns

When your baby has had enough, he/she will fall asleep or just stop nursing. When he/she does, try burping him, waking him/her back up and nursing on the other side. You want your baby to suckle for at least 10-15 minutes or longer. At the next feeding, start with the breast you finished on. Be sure to burp your baby after each breast.

Every baby eats differently. Some may have regular spacing between feedings, some may feed very frequently and then go a little longer once a day, and some may act like they can't get enough.

Breastfeeding works on supply and demand. If a baby is feeding often, he/she is simply stimulating the breast to make more milk. This is common during growth spurts and frequently occurs around two weeks, six weeks, three months, and six months.

How Do I Know My Baby is Getting Enough?

It can be tricky to tell how much breast milk your baby is getting. But there are some clues to make sure your baby is eating plenty.

You may feel assured that your baby is getting enough if by day four or five he/she:

  • Breastfeeds 8-12 times in 24 hours.
  • You can hear soft sounds of swallowing.
  • Latches on correctly and sucks rhythmically for at least 10 minutes or more on each breast.
  • Has 6 or more wet diapers. (Many disposable diapers are difficult to tell if they are wet, so you may need to cut open or remove the plastic layer to determine wetness.)
  • Has stools three or more times a day.

Helping Your Baby Grow

Newborns can be very sleepy in the first few days, so be sure to wake your baby to feed. Do not allow your baby to go longer than three or four hours without feeding.

Babies do not have schedules and trying to "train" the baby to a certain feeding pattern can be risky.

It's also important to make sure that you and your healthcare provider are monitoring your baby's weight, so make sure you take your baby in for check-ups. All babies lose weight after birth. Your baby should gain back to his birth weight by about two weeks.