As mothers, it is our job to worry. And, man, are we good at it. We worry about the weather, about how slippery the floor is, about the invisible germs, about humidity levels. But the one thing that we worry about the most is whether or not our baby is getting enough to eat, and figuring out whether or not our babies are getting enough breast milk is even worse.
Babies are amazing little creatures, but there isn’t a whole lot that they can do for themselves. We go through 9 long months building our tiny human just to find out that we aren’t off the hook yet and that the hard part is just beginning because now we get to experience the joy of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful, amazing thing that we as women can do. We are able to not only build our babies, but also nourish them once they are born. It’s awesome. It also really sucks.
If you choose to do things old school and directly nurse, then you put the baby on, let him do his thing for a while, switch sides, and remove. Rinse and repeat as needed.
If you’re a bit more modern in your endeavors whether by choice or force and you are a pumper, then you apply suction cups, watch for milky sprays, wait for sprays to stop, and remove. Rinse and repeat as needed.
Either way the process is the same. We are waiting for our bodies to tell us how much milk is enough. For a few unlucky ladies, the body gets it wrong and just can’t produce enough milk. It is horrible and it does happen. For those of you with a true low supply, you are amazing for everything that you do.
Is it Enough Milk?
Only about 15% of women have a true low supply. That’s it. While it isn’t unheard of, it isn’t quite as common as we tend to believe. I have personally met more women with an oversupply than an under.
But, as I said, mothers are worriers, and we tend to think that if we aren’t pushing out 60 ounces a day then we must have a supply issue. That is not the case.
A breast fed baby should drink between 18 and 32 ounces per day on average. That’s an average. Some babies drink less, and some drink more. It all depends on your baby. The best thing that you can do to find out how much is enough, is to pay attention to your baby.
How to Tell
How many wet and dirty diapers is your little one having a day? For the first week of life, you can expect your baby to have 1 wet diaper for every day of life. After that he should be having at least 6 wet diapers and 3 dirty diapers.
Some babies will get to a point of only having 1 dirty diaper every few days, but that never happened to us.
The main thing to watch are the wet diapers. If your baby is having plenty of wet diapers and the urine doesn’t look too dark, then that means that he is well hydrated. If his diaper output has dropped, then be on the lookout for other dehydration symptoms such as dry mouth, sunken fontanel, increased thirst, and extra irritability and fussiness.
How is your baby’s weight gain? Is he staying on his curve or is he dropping off?
A baby that is staying on his growth curve is getting plenty of milk. If for some reason he starts to drop off, then you can look into the possibility that he isn’t drinking enough.
Call your pediatrician and set up a weight check if you’re worried about it. Some places will allow you to just drop by while others require an appointment. The great thing is that they don’t care how often you do it.
I saw my pediatrician weekly for the first couple of months of J’s life because that poor guy just could not figure out nursing. That was ultimately how we found out that he wasn’t getting enough milk.
During one of our weight checks we realized he was dropping percentiles. They gave me some other things to try, but I ultimately switched to exclusive pumping because it was easier on him. It also allowed me to monitor how much milk he was drinking, which made me a much calmer mama. (You can read more about our breastfeeding journey HERE)
So if you’re ever worried, feel free to pop by your pediatrician’s and do a weight check, just to make sure.
How is he acting after nursing or a bottle? Is he calm and relaxed or is he pissed off and yelling? If your baby is calm after a feeding, then it is pretty safe to assume that he is getting enough milk.
I always knew when J was either going through a growth spurt or simply needing more milk by the fact that he would scream at me the moment the bottle came out of his mouth. Even through the sleep deprivation it wasn’t hard to figure that one out.
Are you worried about your baby’s milk intake? Leave me a comment below.
Until next time!