Breastfeeding: How to Tell Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk

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When you first start breastfeeding, you may be concerned your baby is not getting enough milk. You can’t always tell how much a breastfed baby is drinking. It’s very rare that women don’t make enough breast milk for their babies. But it may take a little while before you feel confident your baby is getting what they need. We asked MAM Midwife Katie Hilton, how parents can be assured baby is getting enough milk.

“Your baby will generally let you know, but wet and dirty nappies are a good indication, as well as hearing your baby swallow,” says Katie Hilton, MAM Midwife & Health Visitor.

If you need some reassurance that your baby is getting enough milk, it’s a good idea to get a midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist to watch your baby feed. They can offer suggestions to make sure your baby is properly positioned and attached at the breast and is feeding well, says Katie.One of the most important factors to ensure baby is receiving enough milk is to ensure that the baby is well attached at the breast to enable effective milk transfer.

Signs your baby is well attached include:

  • Your baby has a wide mouth and a large mouthful of breast.
  • Your baby’s chin is touching your breast, their lower lip is rolled down (you can’t always see this) and their nose is not squashed against your breast.
  • You don’t feel any pain in your breasts or nipples when your baby is feeding, although the first few sucks may feel strong.
  • You can see more of the dark skin around your nipple (areola) above your baby’s top lip than below their bottom lip.

Signs your baby is getting enough milk:

  • Your baby starts feeds with a few rapid sucks followed by long, rhythmic sucks and swallows with occasional pauses.
  • You can hear and see your baby swallowing.
  • Your baby’s cheeks stay rounded, not hollow, during sucking.
  • They seem calm and relaxed during feeds.
  • Your baby comes off the breast on their own at the end of feeds.
  • Their mouth looks moist after feeds.
  • Your baby appears content and satisfied after most feeds.
  • Your breasts feel softer after feeds.
  • Your nipple looks more or less the same after feeds and not flattened, pinched or white.
  • You may feel sleepy and relaxed after feeds.

Other signs your baby is feeding well:

  • Your baby is steadily gaining weight after the first two weeks. It’s normal for babies to lose some of their birth weight in the first two weeks.
  • They appear healthy and alert when they’re awake.
  • From the fourth day, they should do at least two soft, yellow feces the size of a £2 coin every day for the first few weeks.
  • From day five onward, wet nappies should start to become more frequent, with at least six heavy wet nappies every 24 hours. In the first 48 hours, your baby is likely to have only two or three wet nappies.

It can be hard to tell if disposable nappies are wet. To get an idea, take a nappy and add two to four tablespoons of water. This will give you an idea of what to look and feel for.If you have concerns about how much milk your baby is getting, it’s important to ask for help early. Speak to your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist. They can also tell you where you can get further support.

About the author
Kate Hilton
Katie Hilton is a dual qualified nurse, midwife and health visitor. Her experience has been mainly in labour delivery, postnatal and public/family health setting within both the hospital and community. Katie has experience working with families in both the UK, North America and Asia. Her specialist areas include infant feeding, sleep and child development. Katie currently practices independently as a Midwife and Health Visitor and provides specialist advice to parents and families on behalf of the parenting press and nursery industry brands.