How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk

How do I know if my baby is getting enough breast milk?

Your baby will need to latch on correctly to get enough breast milk. You will learn to recognize signs that he has latched on correctly. You should be able to hear him suck and swallow in a regular pattern. You should have little or no discomfort in your nipple or breast. Your baby should seem calm after breastfeeding. He may fall asleep, or his face, arms, and hands may look relaxed. The following can also help you know your baby is getting enough breast milk:

  • Your baby has several wet or soiled diapers each day. When he is 4 days old, he should have 3 to 4 bowel movements each day. He should also have 6 to 8 wet diapers a day.

  • Your baby is gaining weight. Your baby's caregiver will check his weight at each visit to see if he is gaining weight as he should. Your baby may lose weight in the first 3 days after birth. By 4 to 5 days old, your baby should start gaining weight.

  • Your breasts feel different before and after breastfeeding. Your breasts should feel full before breastfeeding your baby and softer after. This means that your baby is emptying your breasts during breastfeeding.

  • Your baby feeds 8 or more times each day. Your baby may let you know when he is ready to breastfeed. He may be wide awake and moving his arms and legs more. He may turn his head toward your breast and move his mouth more. He may put his hand up to his mouth and suck his fingers or his fist. You may need to wake your baby to feed him.

How can I care for myself while I am breastfeeding?

  • Follow a healthy meal plan. Follow a healthy meal plan that provides the amount of calories and nutrients you need while you are breastfeeding. Your body needs extra calories and nutrients to keep you healthy and support milk production. A healthy meal plan includes a variety of foods from all the food groups. You need about 8 to 12 cups of liquids each day to prevent dehydration and keep up your milk supply. Drink a beverage each time you breastfeed to help you get enough liquids. Drink liquids that do not contain caffeine. Examples are water, juice, and milk. Ask your caregiver for more information on breastfeeding and your diet.

  • Ask about medicines. Talk to your caregiver before you take any medicines. This includes all prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Some medicines may decrease the amount of breast milk you make. Other medicines may enter your breast milk and affect your baby.

  • Keep a diary. Write down each time you breastfeed your baby and when you pump your breasts. Make a note of how much milk you pump out each time. You also can write down when your baby has wet or soiled diapers. A diary can help you and your caregiver know if your baby is getting enough milk.

Where can I go for support and more information?

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
    141 Northwest Point Boulevard
    Elk Grove Village , IL 60007-1098
    Phone: 1- 847 - 434-4000
    Web Address: http://www.aap.org
  • La Leche League International
    957 North Plum Grove Road
    Schaumburg , IL 60173
    Phone: 1- 847 - 519-7730
    Phone: 1- 800 - 525-3243
    Web Address: http://www.lalecheleague.org

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • Your baby is 4 or more days old and has fewer than 6 wet diapers each day.

  • Your baby is 4 or more days old and has fewer than 3 to 4 bowel movements each day.

  • Your baby is not gaining weight or looks as if he is losing weight.

  • Your breasts do not feel full, or you are not leaking breast milk within 5 days of giving birth.

  • Your baby is feeding fewer than 8 times each day.

  • Your baby is fussy or acts hungry after you breastfeed.

  • You do not hear your baby swallowing while you are breastfeeding.

  • You have nipple pain during breastfeeding or between feedings. Your nipples look red, dry, cracked, or they have scabs on them.

  • Your baby becomes jaundiced (skin and whites of the eyes are turning yellow).

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan how you are going to feed your baby. To help with this plan, you must learn as much as you can about breastfeeding. Ask your caregiver questions about breastfeeding. You can talk with him about the best way to feed your baby.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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