Written by Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC our monthly contributor.
Mom’s love to compare. Just listen to a group of moms talking, and you’ll hear it.
“Baby Michael is sleeping eight hours straight every night. And he is only six weeks old. How long does your baby sleep?”
“My little Jessica is in the 90th percentile for weight.”
“This little guy of mine eats 35 ounces of milk every day.”
You think to yourself that you have no idea how much milk your baby eats because you are breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed your baby. But it’s a little mysterious. You don’t know how much is in there. And you don’t know how much your baby is getting out. While some moms will trust the process and have faith that it will work out, there are a lot of moms who worry. If you are that mom, this article is for you.
Your baby needs as much milk as it takes for her to grow at a normal rate. Most moms make more than what their baby needs.
- If your baby is gaining 5-7 oz per week in the first three months, then she is getting enough.
- By four months, average weight gain decreases to 3-5 oz per week.
- By six months it’s 2-3 oz per week.
Most families don’t have an accurate baby scale at home, though. You don’t need to weigh your baby frequently. If you do want that kind of reassurance you can often find a baby scale at these places:
- New mom’s groups
- Breastfeeding support groups
- Some hospitals have scales available for you to weigh your baby
Fortunately, there are other ways to get reassurance that your baby is getting everything he needs from you.
Breast Milk Requirements in the First Week
One of the most important things to remember is that breast milk requirements change over time. And they change dramatically in the first week.
When a baby is firstborn, he does not need a lot of milk. Over a 24-hour period a baby may drink a total of less than once ounce. This is the period they are drinking colostrum, which is very nutrient-dense. Milk Dust is an amazing, nutrient-dense drink for new mommies to help bring in the colostrum.
This amount increases each day, and by the end of the first week, the average-sized baby is taking about 16-20 ounces of your milk.
What this means is that the signs that are reassuring on day 2 would be very concerning at the end of that first week.
Counting diapers before the milk comes in will let you know if your baby is getting enough to stay adequately hydrated. Look for one wet diaper for each day of age.
- Day 1 – 1 wet diaper
- Day 2 – 2 wet diapers
- Day 3 until the milk comes in – 3 wet diapers (about one every eight hours).
Dirty diapers are also important. We like to see at least one every day until the milk comes in. What you find in a dirty diaper will change every few days until your milk comes in.
- Meconium is a baby’s first poop.
- It is in their bowels when they are born
- Black and sticky. Be prepared with lots of wipes when you have to change one of these!
- Transitional poops.
- Green and pasty
- Seeing transitional poop tells you that your baby is getting your colostrum!!!
- Breast milk stools
- Seen after the milk comes in
- Yellow, seedy and loose
- The more, the better
After the milk comes in, you should see at least 4-5 breast milk stools every 24 hours.
Reassuring Signs That Your Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk
While weight gain trumps everything, there are signs to look for that give you clues that your baby is getting enough to eat.
This is the easiest way to get reassurance that your baby is getting enough to eat. How much your baby puts out is directly related to how much he takes in.
For the first two months, your baby should have 6-8 wet diapers and 4-5 dirty diapers every 24 hours.
Some babies can have a dirty diaper every time they eat.
Both wet and dirty diapers are important.
Listen for swallowing. There should be lots of it.
- You should hear a swallow for every one to two sucks for at least five minutes.
- It is a gentle sound, sort of like, “cah.” It will follow a suck.
- You can also see swallowing. When a baby swallows, they pause in the middle of the suck. Watch for your baby to hold the suck for an extra beat or two. Imagine it sounding like: suck, suuuuuck, suck, suuuuuck.
Full Breasts – Soft Breasts
Your breasts should fill up with milk between feedings and then get softer after your baby drains them is also a reassuring sign. After a few months, you will notice this happening less dramatically.
If you pay attention to these signs and they are not reassuring, or if your baby is not gaining enough weight, you should meet with a lactation consultant. She can help you figure out what is going on.
Make sure to try out our Boobie Brownies For Increased Milk Supply