Did you know the NUMBER ONE reason why moms quit breastfeeding is because they think their milk supply is low? They worry about their baby getting enough milk and question their ability to produce.
And in MOST cases, their supply is fine!
Feeding formula or breast milk from a bottle allows a mom to see exactly how much her baby is eating.
But what about the breastfeeding mom? How can she tell?
There are a few simple ways, that will help you not to stress!
Here’s How To KNOW Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
1. Poopy Diapers
One fantastic way to tell if your baby is getting enough milk is by their poopy diapers! This is a way that any mom will be able to keep track of.
The saying to help you remember the number is:
4 BY DAY 4.
In the first days of your baby’s life, their number of poopy diapers should equal the number of days they’re alive.
- On day 1 of life: baby should have 1 poopy diaper.
- On day 2 of life: baby should have 2 poopy diapers.
- On day 3 of life: baby should have 3 poopy diapers.
- On day 4 of life: baby should have 4 poopy diapers.
Day 4 should be the day where things even out. Expect anywhere between 3 and 5 poopy diapers per day until your baby is about 6 weeks old (around 6 weeks, it’s common for babies poopy diapers to decrease).
The important thing to remember here is that it’s poopy diapers, not wet diapers. Some babies can pee a lot in the first days after birth, especially if mom received an IV during or before labor. They can pee whether or not they’re getting enough milk.
Therefore, wet diapers isn’t the best way to tell if baby is eating enough.
As far as how your baby’s poops should look, there are normal changes that occur in the first few days.
Your baby’s first poop is called meconium. It’s very dark and thick- almost like tar. Don’t worry! Your baby’s poop won’t stay like this forever.
The next few days, your baby’s poop should start to change from black to a greenish color. This poop color should last a few days, but by day 3 or 4 your baby’s poops should be yellow if they’re breastfed.
Normal baby poops are yellow in color, like mustard. Sometimes they look “seedy”, meaning it looks like small tomato seeds are in their poop. No, that tomato you ate didn’t make it through your breasts and into your baby’s poop… breastfed babies just tend to have seedy poops, which is common.
2. No more than 10% weight loss
Your baby is expected to lose weight right after birth. A 5-7% weight loss is normal, but as the number gets closer to 10%, there may be concern.
Sometimes though, numbers close to 10% are expected. This commonly occurs if mommy had an IV infusion before or after labor. Some of that extra water also went to the baby, so will be lost in the first few days.
If your baby starts to lose more than 10% of their weight, it’s time for an evaluation of feeding. A lactation consultant can be extremely helpful. Your doctor may recommend supplementing with formula, but many moms want to exclusively breastfeed.
If you want to exclusively breastfeed, reaching out to a lactation consultant is important.
Evaluating weight loss will be done by your pediatrician.
You should take your baby in to a pediatrician frequently in the days after birth. Be sure you find a pediatrician you like because you will be working closely during this time.
3. Return to birth weight by 2 weeks
The first 3-4 days after birth, your body produces colostrum. It’s a yellow, sticky liquid full of immunological properties and nutrients. It’s nutritionally dense, and your baby’s stomach is very small at first. That means your baby doesn’t need a lot of volume to be full in the first few days.
This, along with fluid loss are the reason for your baby losing weight. In the womb, your baby floated in fluid. When born, the excess fluid they retained while in the womb is lost along with their weight.
Your milk should start to come in between days 2 and 5, around the same time your baby loses all of the excess water they gained in the womb.
Once your milk comes in and baby’s stomach starts to grow to accommodate more milk, their weight should start to increase. Baby’s weight should increase to at least their birth weight by two weeks of life.
Again, your pediatrician will be watching your baby’s weight carefully.
Not returning to birth weight by two weeks could indicate that your baby isn’t getting enough milk.
4. After a feeding
Feeding your baby should also give you some good signs about whether they’re eating enough. Here are the signs:
Your breasts feel emptier or softer after a feeding than before. As your baby nurses, if milk is transferring you should feel a difference in your breasts. Pay attention to how firm or full your breasts feel before a feeding, and compare them to afterwards.
Baby acts satisfied and relaxed after a feeding. Often your baby will drift off into a peaceful sleep in the first days after birth. As they get older, they may have a longer wake time where they will act happy and satisfied after a feeding.
If your baby is very young, they may fall asleep for a short time and then wake up crying as if they’re starving. For premature or very new babies, this is common and just means they’re figuring things out.
Although doctors generally recommend to feed your newborn baby every 2-3 hours, you can absolutely feed them more often! (Here’s a great article about breastfeeding schedules.)
Sometimes your baby just needs to be a little topped off or is going through a growth spurt and needs some more milk. Don’t worry, just feed your baby a little more.
Here’s a side note… Around 3 months, your supply will start to regulate and many moms become afraid they aren’t making enough milk. It’s normal for your breasts to regulate and thus feel a little less full between feedings.
If your breasts starts to feel emptier before a feeding, just pay attention to your baby’s satisfaction signs. If they act content after breastfeeding, they are probably eating plenty.
Does My Baby Get Enough Milk Even When Cluster Feeding?
Cluster feeding is a term used to describe “feeding marathons” that babies have. Often, babies will have bouts of extended feeding where it feels like that’s all they want to do!
Try not to stress out during these times, and just feed your baby when they act hungry.
Your breast milk supply responds to your baby’s demand, so when your baby goes through a growth spurt they may feed frequently. Cluster feedings can be a natural reaction from your baby to increase your milk supply. When your baby eats, your body responds by increasing your milk supply.
Just because your baby is wanting to feed frequently for a few hours may mean that your baby is trying to tell your breasts to make some more milk. This is the natural process and your milk supply will adjust accordingly.
If you’re still worried about whether your baby is getting enough…
Give your pediatrician a call! That’s what they’re there for and they should be able to weigh your baby and give you an idea about where your baby is at.
A lactation consultant may be beneficial to contact, they will be able to determine if your baby is growing well and transferring milk during a feeding.
Kealy Hawk, BSN, RN, CLC
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own baby feeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their feeding journey. She specializes in breastfeeding support and evidence-based formula recommendations. To talk with Kealy or take one of her breastfeeding or formula classes, visit https://littlebearcare.com.