Fullness Cues: Signs of Satisfaction in Your Breastfeeding Infant

  • title image - signs that baby is full while breastfeeding

As a lactation consultant, one of the most common questions I get asked is, “How do I know my baby is getting enough?” This can be a big concern for new families, as you cannot tangibly see the volume your baby is consuming at the breast. Rest assured, though—there are many ways that baby will communicate their satisfaction to you. Since newborns can’t speak, they will use body language to express their level of contentment with you.

Here are some of those key signs to look out for:

·    Diaper Counts: What goes in, must come out! From the time that your baby is 5 days old, he/she will make at least 6 wet diapers and have about 3 stools per day. If baby is continuing to meet these minimums and have good diaper output, you can rest in the assumption that there is sufficient milk going in.

·    Contentment: A baby who is full will often appear content, happy, and satisfied after a feeding session. They will no longer be actively seeking the breast and may relax their body and release tension, showing signs of comfort.

·    Relaxed Arms, Legs, Hands, and Face: When babies are hungry, they tend to carry more tension; their arms and legs may be drawn in, their eyebrows may be furrowed, and their little hands might be in a tight fist. When they are full, it’ll be just the opposite. If baby’s hands were clenched into fists, or their arms and legs were drawn in prior to the feeding but they have now relaxed and opened up, it could be a sign that they are nice and full.

·    Decreased Suckling: Towards the end of a feeding, you may notice your baby’s sucking pattern slowing down or becoming more relaxed. Baby may switch from actively removing milk to more like pacifying or comfort nursing.

·    Decrease in Audible Swallowing: During a feeding, you will hear audible swallowing sounds as your baby actively drinks milk. As they become full, these swallowing sounds may become less frequent or will stop all together.

·    Drowsiness: Babies often become drowsy or even fall asleep towards the end of a feeding when they are full and satisfied. Think of how you may feel after a big, delicious Thanksgiving dinner—very satisfied and very sleepy. Just like your Thanksgiving turkey, your breastmilk also contains tryptophan to help your baby sleep after a successful breastfeeding session.

·    Releasing the Breast: When your baby has had enough to eat, they may naturally release the breast and no longer want to relatch.

·    Weight Gain: Babies are typically seen by their pediatrician at frequent, regular intervals. Consistent weight gain (about 4-7 ounces per week), growth, and appropriately meeting milestones are all reassuring signs that your baby is getting enough milk at the breast. Consult with your pediatrician to discuss your baby’s growth trajectory.

Understanding these signs can help you feel reassured and confident with your body’s ability to successfully nourish your baby. Remember, every baby is unique, so trust your maternal instincts and seek support from an experienced lactation consultant if you have any questions, concerns, or are experiencing any challenges. Happy feeding!


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