Q: How do I know if I’m making enough milk for my baby?
It’s not unusual to wonder if you have adequate milk for your infant. Almost all women question if they have enough milk, especially right after birth. In fact, worries over milk supply are one of the top reasons women quit breastfeeding. You may be relieved to know that nearly all women make enough milk to meet their baby’s needs.
As a mom, you have several ways of making sure your baby is getting enough. Before you go home from the hospital, your caregivers should teach you how to count wet and soiled diapers. Babies who are getting enough to eat generally have two wet diapers and one soiled diaper on their first day of life. By day four, they’re up to five to six very wet diapers and three to four soiled diapers per day. What goes in must come out, so monitoring your baby’s output is a good way to confirm that she or he is getting enough fluid and nutrients. Breastfed babies who are older may not poop as frequently. Some will poop with every feed, while others may only have one per day.
Checking your baby’s birth weight is another way to keep tabs on milk consumption. Your baby should have returned to his or her birth weight by day 10. If your baby is growing and gaining weight, it’s a good indication that your milk supply is sufficient.
Your baby’s demeanor can also provide clues. A baby should be content after nursing, then hungry again in two to three hours. A baby who is fussy or who can’t settle into feeding may not be getting enough. That said, you can likely expect a feeding frenzy 24 to 48 hours after birth, when your baby is encouraging your milk to come in.
You can also reach out to local breastfeeding support groups for help. PeaceHealth offers a support group on Thursdays where you can check your baby’s weight gain and milk consumption and get breastfeeding tips and tricks from a lactation consultant. The La Leche League of Vancouver offers mother-to-mother breastfeeding support.
One key way you can make sure your baby is getting enough milk is by establishing a great supply early on. To do that, I encourage moms to feed on demand, whenever baby is hungry, instead of trying to adhere to a schedule. The more you nurse, the more milk you’ll make! It’s also important to ensure a comfortable latch for you and baby. A poor latch can prevent a baby from getting enough milk out.
For more tips on how to breastfeed successfully, or to troubleshoot issues, make an appointment with a midwife or lactation consultant.
—Michelle Kassens, CNM
Michelle Kassens is a certified nurse midwife at Vancouver Clinic. She previously obtained lactation certification through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. Michelle offers help and support to both new and experienced moms as they work through breastfeeding issues and celebrate successes.