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Is Your Baby Getting Enough to Eat?

Is Your Baby Getting Enough to Eat?

Is Your Baby Getting Enough to Eat?

Signs from Baby:

  • Nurses 8 to 12 times every 24 hours
  • Swallows at the breast
  • Has 6 or more wet diapers every 24 hours by day six
  • Has 3 or more yellow bowel movements every 24 hours by day six
  • Regains birth weight by two weeks
  • Is satisfied after most feedings

Signs from Mom:

  • Notices engorgement, or swelling of the breasts, by day five
  • Does not have extremely sore nipples

Starting: The newly delivered mother has milk in her breasts in just the right amount to meet the needs of her baby. The first days after delivery, your baby will suckle frequently to feed on your early, high-powered milk called "colostrum." This is the perfect food for your newborn infant. Unlimited access to the breast these first days gets breastfeeding off to a positive start. The more often and effectively your baby nurses, the sooner your milk volume will increase. Making milk is a  take/make or demand/supply situation. Bottom line? The more often the  baby nurses and removes milk from your breasts, the more milk you will make.

Frequency: Your baby should breastfeed at least 8 to 12 time in a 24 hours time  frame by the  second day of life.  Infants occasionally have to be awakened for feedings during the first days or weeks. Once your baby has reached birth weight in the appropriate length of time (2 weeks), waking for feeds should not be necessary. Your baby should continue to want to feed a minimum of  8 times in 24 hours. The length of the feedings will vary greatly. Initially, your baby may feed for only a few minutes, or linger as long as thirty minutes per breast.Typically, babies have one 3-4 hour stretch of sleep and one 3-hour stretch of wakeful,  fussy behavior (the marathon feed/witching hours) every 24 hours. Let your baby set the pace; he/she will suck strongly with pauses between suckling bursts, gradually slowing down. Some babies need to use both breasts at feedings, while others are full after feeding on one breast. Alternate which breast you offer first to equalize your milk production.

Engorgement: Between the third and fifth day, the volume of milk produced by a breastfeeding mother increases dramatically. At this time you will begin to perceive the filling of your breasts as the welcomed sign of "engorgement." This is due to an increase in the volume of your breast milk, as well as body fluids within your breast tissue. Your breasts may become hot, firm and uncomfortable with the onset of engorgement and you may feel body aches. This condition usually improves in 24-48 hours, providing the baby is nursing well. Although the amount of engorgement varies from woman to woman, frequent nursing (every 2-3 hours or more) helps reduce the swelling and tenderness. The more your baby nurses, the less engorgement you will experience. You can tell your baby is removing milk from your breast when you hear swallowing during feeding, and your breasts feel softer and less full after feeding. For more help, check out our article on Engorgement.

What Goes In Comes Out: Urine increases incrementally from 1 to 2 wet diapers on day one, to 6 or more wet diapers by day six. Your baby's urine should be clear. Although normal for the first two days, a reddish "brick dust" in the diaper after the third day may indicate that your baby is not getting enough milk. After day three, your baby's stool will change from dark meconium to green/brown, then to mustard yellow. Yellow breast milk stools are loose and contain seedy curds. Your baby will progress from 1 to 4 stools a day for the first five days, moving to 3 or more yellow stools every 24 hours from day six on. This is a minimum, many breastfed babies stool with every feeding. It doesn't mean they have diarrhea.

Weight Gain: Most babies lose 5 to 8% of their birth weight during the first days of life. This is normal and is due to the elimination of birth fluids and meconium. By day 4,  as your milk volume increases, your baby will stop losing weight and start to gain about 1 ounce every day, regaining his/her birth weight 8-14 days. This weight gain pattern of 6 to 7 ounces per week should continue over the next 3 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that  all breastfed newborns be seen by their health care provider  2-3 days after discharge from the hospital to make sure the weight gain is appropriate. 

How Does It Feel? Mild nipple tenderness at the beginning of each feed for a few days is normal. Severe pain or scabbed, bleeding nipples if not. This damage indicates your baby is not latched correctly and may not be effectively compressing the areola (the dark area surrounding your nipple) to obtain milk. When properly latched, baby will suckle more milk and should not hurt your nipples. If your nipples are sore and not making improvement by the 5th day of life, you should make an appointment to see a Lactation Consultant. Check out  Our Article on Deep Latch Technique

Our Norm: Human babies are designed to feed frequently -  it's our biologic norm. Breast milk is easily digested and passes through your baby's tiny stomach within 48 to 90 minutes. Watch for indicators of hunger: hand-to-mouth movements, wiggling, stretching, tongue movements, noises and light sleep. Crying is a very late feeding cue, so don't wait for your baby to cry to let you know they are hungry. Feed frequently, as often as your baby desires. This assures adequate feeding and helps build up your supply. If you are concerned, see your baby's doctor or make an appointment to see one of our Lactation Consultants. Our Team of Lactation Professionals are board certified, most are RN's and  they and can help and support you. We're prepared to answer questions about latching technique, nursing positions and anything else regarding breastfeeding and baby care. (see Store locations & hours)

 Breastfeeding Record  Breastfeeding Log example:
Date Time Left Breast Right Breast Wet Diapers Stools Comments
Essential Breastfeeding Support and Baby Care Items
The Pump Station & Nurtury® has decades of experience providing new families with outstanding educational, breastfeeding and baby care support, including products and classes which can make all the difference to you and your baby. To see a list of some of the essential products that our Lactation Professionals have recommended, click Essential Breastfeeding and Baby Care Products
Our Recommended Items
learn deep latch with Baby Care 101 DVD
Baby Care 101 DVD
Achieve better latch with Luna nursing pillow
Luna Lullaby Nursing Pillow
save extra milk with Haakaa manual hand pump
Haakaa Manual Pump
good latch with back pillow
The Pump Station Back Pillow
nursing position help with adjustable stool
My Brest Friend Adjustable Stool
easy travel diaper changes with disposable pads
Diposable Changing Pads

See Other Breastfeeding and Baby Care Help Topics

Copyright© 2017 by The Pump Station & Nurtury®. All rights reserved. No part of this handout may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, without permission in writing from The Pump Station & Nurtury®. This article has not been prepared by a physician, is not intended as medical advice, and is not a substitute for regular medical care. Consult with a physician if medical symptoms or problems occur. Revised 01/06

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