I hear that question very frequently! Let’s dive into it together. I will explore general tips and concerns. Please keep in mind that this is not medical advice nor replacement for private consultation.

After your baby is born it takes a few days for your milk to come in. Your baby will be thriving off of colostrum and it will only need small amounts – about a teaspoon per feed the 1st day. As your baby gets older and their tummy grows, they will be expecting larger amounts. For a full term newborn the amount is about 2-3 oz every 3 hours or so by the time they are 5 days old.

Pretty amazing right? From a teaspoon to ⅓ cup in just 5 days!!  Your body is magical. It created a human being without medical staff supervision. It will continue the magic! Trust it. Trust yourself!!

Sometimes if mom or baby have a medical / physical complication – like postpartum hemorrhage, increased blood pressure, baby has a tongue restriction, breathing difficulties etc. The natural process might get interrupted. I will outline for you what to look for to help you identify the common breastfeeding obstacles.  In some cases, breastfeeding is not going as expected and you or your baby might need some help. My intention is not to scare you but to make you aware of possibilities. Please don’t let the fear discourage you. Let the knowledge empower YOU!!

baby on breast

5 KEY POINTS to REMEMBER about knowing if your baby is getting enough

  1. Your baby should be feeding at least 8 x in 24 hours
  2. Your baby should have enough wet and dirty diapers. We are expecting at least 6-8 wet ones and 3-4 dirty ones in 24 hours.
  3. You should hear swallows during nursing – not only during let down.
  4. Your baby should be gaining weight after being discharged from the hospital. After the initial few days of weight loss, your little one should be back to birth weight by 2 weeks. After that they should be gaining about 5-7oz a week for the next 2-3 months.
  5. Your baby should be satisfied after nursing, not rooting, crying or showing hunger cues.

When babies show hunger cues despite frequent and long feedings something might not be right. It gets very confusing for parents because of the time and effort they spend feeding their child. Parents are very sleep deprived after a few days of giving all their attention to their tiny human being that just changed their world. They might not see the cues their baby is showing.

If your baby is nursing constantly and you are not able to get any breaks or sleep, ask for help! Cluster feedings – nursing very frequently, is a concern. Yes, breastfed baby cluster feed before your milk is fully in or when they have a growth spurt but not a typical daily routine for more than 2 or 3 days.

On the other hand some babies go to “sleep saver mode” They sleep even if they are not satisfied and not getting enough. They fall asleep during nursing, they sleep well between nursing, parents need to remind them and constantly wake them up to feed. They are not getting enough calories so they decide to sleep and burn as little as possible. Probably the only way to know for sure is frequent weight check. I would say at least every 2 weeks and if there are other concerns maybe even once a week.

Also it’s very important to keep in mind that babies that are under 7 lbs and born before their due date will most likely need some kind of supplement. In my experience babies that weigh 5 or 6 lbs are not able to transfer an adequate amount from mom.

What to do if you suspect low milk transfer?

Start pumping. Grab your pump to a rescue and see how much milk you can express. Supplement your baby with the express milk and see if the symptoms improve. Pumping will tell you where your supply is and will help your IBCLC determine a care plan.

Offer your baby a bottle with your expressed breast milk. If breastmilk is not available sometimes formula has to come to a rescue.

Reach out to your local IBCLC consultant that should be able to figure out why your baby is not gaining weight or transferring enough milk. Your IBCLC might weigh your baby before and after the nursing session. Also pick a consultant that is able to do oral function assessment and is familiar with Teether Oral Tissues restrictions (TOTs) also known as tongue and lip ties. Not every provider has the knowledge and expertise. As an IBCLC we can’t diagnose ties but we can assess the function.

Now, I just opened up a whole new topic of tongue ties, but don’t worry, my next article will dive deeper. For now, enjoy your bundle of joy, you are an amazing parent, no matter how you feed your baby. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local IBCLC or you can schedule a virtual consult with me at midwestlactation.com.

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