Is my baby getting enough milk?

A guide to baby getting enough milk, by guest blogger Susan Muraida from Young Women United’s Luna Sagrada collective. 
Almost all new parents worry if their baby is getting enough milk. It is perfectly normal, and a very reasonable concern. You love your baby and want to do the best you can for them. As a breastfeeding peer counselor, I’d like to shed some light on what is “a normal amount” of milk during the first few days (it changes as your baby grows), and share some tips for how to tell if your baby is getting enough milk. Hopefully this information will help relieve some fears and equip you with a few parenting tools to help ensure your baby grows to be happy and healthy.
Average Early Breast Milk Volumes for Babies
Day 1
13 +/- 6 g/kg  (range of 3-32g/kg)
~50mL for a 3.6 kg newborn   (or a 7 lb 15 oz. baby)
(almost 3.5 tablespoons of milk)
Day 3
98 +/- 47 g/kg  (range of 50-163g/kg)
~350mL for a 3.6 kg newborn   (or a 7 lb 15 oz. baby)
(about 1.5 cups of milk)
Day 5
155 +/- 29 g/kg  (range of 110-196g/kg)
~560mL for a 3.6 kg newborn   (or a 7 lb 15 oz. baby)
(between 2.25 and 2.5 cups of milk)
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  • For most women, milk comes in around 24-72 hours after the baby is born. For about 15% of women, milk comes in after 72 hours.
  • First time moms’ milk tends to come in a little later (closer to 72 hours) compared to moms who have breastfed before.
  • For the first few days, the baby will typically only wet one or two diapers each day, if being breastfed. This is because the baby will be receiving colostrum (the very healthy and immunity-boosting “baby’s first food” that is ready for feeding before the “milk comes in”).
Your Breastfeeding Baby is Probably Getting Enough Milk if:
  • Your baby’s weight increases by 1 oz. the day after “milk comes in” (usually by the third or fourth day)
  • If your baby has more than 6 wet and 3 soiled diapers every day for the first 6 weeks. (If you pour 2-4 tablespoons of water into a dry diaper, this will give you a good idea of what a “wet diaper” feels like)
  • If you can hear your baby’s swallowing sounds when feeding
  • If your baby spills milk when feeding
  • If there is any leakage of milk
  • If your baby is nursing >5 times during the day and >2 times at night
  • If each nursing session is greater than 6 minutes
  • If your baby is active and alert when awake
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Things to remember:
  • Keep an eye on your baby’s latch to the breast (it may take a few times to get it right, just keeping practicing. Most babies (86%) have a good latch by Day 7).
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  • Every baby is different. Every parent is different. Every breast is different. Even the amount of milk that each breast produces may be different.

 

  • It may seem that your baby wants to breastfeed much more often than you anticipated. This is normal. The more time you spend with your baby, the more you will bond and the easier it will be to understand what your baby wants.

 

  • Breastfeeding your baby is one of the best things you can do for your baby. But whether you give your baby formula or breastmilk, bonding with your baby by holding them in your arms is more important than the amount of milk your baby gets. Listening to your baby and learning their cues is key – your baby will tell you when they’re hungry, upset, happy, etc. You are your baby’s best supporter and teacher, and the fact that you are seeking to understand what’s best for them means you are already a good parent. Keep it up!

 

  • If you have any concerns regarding your baby, please discuss them with your healthcare provider, especially if your baby is not gaining weight well or is losing weight. In most cases, improved breastfeeding techniques will quickly resolve the situation, but occasionally, weight gain may indicate a health problem.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding Picture
References:
Casey et. al. Nutrient Intake by Breast-fed Infants During the First Five Days After Birth. Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(9):933-936.
La Leche League International. http://www.llli.org/nb.html
The New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force Advanced Concepts in Breastfeeding, 19th Annual Conference. “Let There Be Milk: Strategies to Influence a Plentiful Milk Supply”
For additional reading:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding 8th edition, Tear-Sheet Toolkit, Chapter 20. http://www.llli.org/docs/0000000000000001WAB/laleche_ch_20_tear-sheet_toolkit.pdf   OR   http://www.llli.org/toolkit
[author]  [author_info]BF ConferenceSusan Muraida is our guest blogger, coming from YWU’s Luna Sagrada collective. Along with the collective, Susan provides free prenatal and postpartum support to low-income pregnant people and parents of color in Albuquerque. [/author_info] [/author]