Am I Making Enough Breast Milk?

Breast Milk

If you are breastfeeding, you have probably noticed something about your breasts. They don’t come with easy-to-read measurements on the sides that tell you how much milk they hold and how much milk your baby has had during this feeding session.

Or how about a device like a car engine’s dipstick, that measures milk levels before and after feeding? Think about it, instead of having to worry if you are making enough milk and fed your baby well, you could just check the milk levels on your breast and see for sure!

You wish, right?

If you worry that you are not making enough milk for your baby, you are not alone. This thought passes through every nursing mother’s head from time to time. Maybe your breasts are no longer leaking milk or they don’t seem as full as when you first started nursing. Or your baby drinks milk eagerly from a bottle. Or is very fussy. Or, worst, your mother-in-law or your aunt is questioning your ability to provide enough milk. None of these signs mean that you are not producing enough milk.

Very few women who breastfeed do not produce enough milk. Even women who have had most types of breast surgery can produce enough of the best nutrition available for their child.

The best ways to tell if your baby is getting enough milk are to check diapers and to make sure that your baby is growing and developing the way he or she should.

Your Baby’s Growth

Let’s tackle that second method first, since it is straightforward. If your baby is gaining weight and growing appropriately, he or she is getting enough to eat from you. Your newborn will lose a few ounces of weight in the first few days after birth, but after that he or she should start gaining a few ounces—between 4 and 7 ounces—a week.

Is your baby alert when she or he is awake? Is she active and meeting developmental goals like sitting up at an appropriate age?Is he growing in length and head circumference? Is she content after feeding? If she or he is developing normally, your baby is getting enough milk.

Diaper Patrol

The main way to determine on a day-to-day basis if your baby is getting enough nourishment from you is to check diapers. The first couple of days, your baby will wet one or two diapers a day. After than, which is when your full milk production has arrived, your baby should wet 6 to 8 cloth diapers per day, or 5 to 6 disposable diapers. Feel the weight of a dry diaper, and then pour about 2 tablespoons of water into it. Now feel the difference. That is a wet diaper.

Keep an eye on the poopy diapers, too. Your baby should be pooping two to five times each day. Many babies start with smaller, more frequent bowel movements (which may be loose) and then may have less frequent larger bowel movements after a few weeks.

If you still worry that you are not producing enough milk, talk to your baby’s pediatrician or healthcare provider. If your baby is not growing appropriately, it may be due to something other than insufficient milk.

You can also talk with a lactation consultant, a health professional trained to teach a mother how to breastfeed her baby and help deal with any problems with breastfeeding. A lactation consultant can help teach you how to determine if your baby is getting enough milk or help you with any other feeding problems you may encounter.You can ask your pediatrician for a recommendation or check the International Lactation Consultant Association for nearby consultants.

What have been your experiences with breastfeeding? Share with us in the comments section below.  

You may also want to read the following related post in Pregistry’s blog: You Are Having Breastfeeding Problems. Who Are You Going to Call?

Sources:

La Leche League International: How Can I Tell If My Baby Is Getting Enough Milk? Available at http://www.llli.org/faq/enough.html.   Accessed on Jan. 29, 2016.

Bonyata, Kelly: Is Baby Getting Enough Milk? Available at KellyMom.com, at http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/enough-milk/.  Accessed on Jan. 29, 2016.

Bonyata, Kelly: Increasing Low Milk Supply. Available at KellyMom.com, at http://kellymom.com/hot-topics/low-supply/. Accessed on Jan 27, 2016.

Valerie DeBenedette
Valerie DeBenedette is an experienced health and medical writer who lives about an hour north of New York City with a dog that is smaller than her cat. Her work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and on websites. She is a member of the National Association of Science Writers.

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