How to ensure he's getting enough
If you are like many nursing moms, you may be wondering if your baby is receiving enough breast milk. Moms who use formula know, when the bottle is empty, baby is (likely) full. For breastfed babies, it’s different.
During the first month of life, your newborn will eat 8 to 12 times a day, or every 1.5 to 3 hours. Since breast milk is more easily digested than formula, baby gets hungry sooner. As your baby matures, she will likely get on a more routine schedule and eat every 3 to 4 hours. Here are some ways to determine whether your baby is getting what he needs.
Feeding duration: Allow your baby to fall off each breast. He will probably be on the breast about 5 to 15 minutes per side. Typically, babies feed on the first breast longer than the second. Letting them fall off ensures that they stay on long enough to trigger several letdowns, which yield the creamier, high-calorie hind-milk. Make note of which breast you end a feeding with so you can start baby on the other breast during the next session.
Urine output: A baby that is getting enough breast milk will usually have six to eight wet diapers a day. The urine should be odorless and clear or very pale in color. Seek medical advice if urine is dark or has an odor.
Bowel movements: During the first few days, look for black, tarry stools. By day three, when your transitional milk comes in, look for green/yellow stools. By the end of the first to second week, when your mature milk comes, your baby’s stools should be yellow and seedy. At about four to six weeks of age, your baby’s bowel movements may vary from once a day to once every three to four days. Seek medical advice should you notice changes in color, odor, or see infrequent discharge.
Baby’s behavior: A baby that is getting enough milk each feeding will be satisfied and content, and may fall into a quiet state immediately after feeding. Overall, a well-fed baby is alert, sleeps soundly, and is gaining weight.
A baby that is not getting enough to eat will be fussy, will not be gaining weight, and may feed for more than an hour but still not be satisfied.
Shortly after the quiet state, your baby will fuss. This typically means he is ready to nap. Babies are hungry soon after waking. Between eight to 12 weeks of age, they can generally wait 10 to 15 minutes before giving feeding cues: Fussing, smacking of lips, putting hands to their mouth, and crying.
What about maintaining my milk supply? You may have heard time and again that nursing is about supply and demand. That actually has truth. Routine nursing, without skipping a feed, will allow you to maintain your milk supply as your baby matures. Conversely, regularly skipping feedings will result in your body making less milk, as this is the practice you would do to begin the weaning process. Be sure to eat a nutritious diet and drink plenty of water to keep your milk supply flowing.
Do you have other breastfeeding questions? Call the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline at (855) 423-6667. Lactation consultants and counselors are available 24/7.