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It can be hard to tell how much your newborn is eating while breastfeeding. But if you know the signs of a well-fed baby, you can put your mind at ease. Lactation consultant Julie Hawksley describes what to look for when you want to make sure your baby is getting enough nourishment.
Every parent wants to make sure their baby is getting all the nourishment they need. This is the biggest concern, I think, for most new parents. You can be reassured when you see these signs:
Your breast should feel softer after nursing.
Your baby should seem relaxed and satisfied after a feeding.
Your baby should have one to two wet diapers and one to two dirty diapers that appear dark and sticky in the first one to two days.
When you start to notice that you're making more milk, you should expect to see at least six wet diapers per day, as well as three dirty diapers that should now appear soft and yellow.
After 6 weeks it's normal for some babies to continue to have really frequent bowel movements and others not so much. Don't be alarmed if your baby only has one bowel movement a week.
I think it's important to know that your baby is expected to lose weight in the beginning as much as 7 to 8 percent from their birth weight, but know that at about 2 weeks they should be back to birth weight.
It's important to make sure that you bring your baby to all of his pediatric appointments to be sure that he's gaining weight appropriately and his growth is on track.
Signs that your baby is not getting enough breast milk includes: excessive weight loss; he might have dark urine; he might have really small dark stools as well; you might find that your baby is very fussy; or he's really lethargic; he might also have really dry cracked lips.
If you're worried that your baby isn't getting enough, don't wait. Call your doctor or your lactation consultant right away.
It's really hard for parents to know exactly how much baby's drinking during breastfeeding, so it's really important to respond to feeding cues. There should be at least eight to 10 feedings every 24 hours. In the beginning, I also recommend offering both breasts at every feeding.
You should always breastfeed in response to your baby's feeding cues – early ones, if possible. Look for your baby smacking his lips, bringing his fingers to his mouth, turning his head side to side, rooting. Breast milk should remain your baby's main source of nutrition throughout the first year.
As you get to know your baby, you'll be able to read his hunger cues and routine. If you have specific questions about your baby's feedings, talk to your doctor. Worrying that your baby is not getting enough is a really common concern. I recommend holding your baby skin to skin. Give your baby full access to the breast. Keep him close. I would also do lots of massage, hand expression, really work on protecting and building your milk supply while you allow your baby to practice latching.
Video production by Corduroy Media
Medically reviewed by, lactation consultant
Last updated: October 2019