This is an extremely common question amongst new moms. Breastfeeding for the first time imposes it’s own set of challenges and then on top of it all, we worry that our precious new bundles are getting enough to eat. Fortunately there are specific things you can watch for to ensure your baby is getting enough.
Monitoring your newborn’s hydration by keeping track of the number of wet diapers is one of the most important things you can watch for in determining whether or not they are getting enough breastmilk. As a general guideline, for the first few days, babies should have the same number of wet diapers as their age in days. So for the first day, one wet diaper. On day two, they should have two wet diapers, etc. Around 6-7 days old and particularly after mothers milk has come in, babies should then consistently have about 6 wet diapers per day.
If your baby is producing enough wet diapers, this is a good sign that they are well hydrated. Poops are another thing to watch for when determining whether they are getting enough milk or not. It is important that your baby passes a stool within the first few days after birth. This initial stool is black and sticky- kind of like molasses. After this, your baby’s poop should transition to be more green/yellowy. It can be difficult to recall diaper changes, so it is important to keep a record of your baby’s pees and poops. There are many apps available for phones where you can input this data. Alternatively, keep a pen and notepad nearby to track the diapers.
It is normal for babies to lose weight in the first two weeks of life. By day 14 however, your baby should be back up to their birth weight. It is important to monitor their weight and ensure they are gaining. If you do not have a newborn check-up scheduled until after day 14, it is a good idea to take them to a health centre to get weighed.
It can be normal for newborns to have fussy periods, especially in the evening hours which can make it difficult to determine the cause. Babies who are not getting enough milk are often consistently fussy, rarely satisfied after feeds. This can be a difficult factor to consider however, as fussy/colicky babies (sometimes unrelated to milk supply) often want to feed more often for comfort. Additionally, breastfed babies in general typically want to feed a lot and often which can sometimes cause confusion and make mothers think that they are not producing enough breastmilk.
If you have a really sleepy baby, sometimes you might need to tickle them or remove their clothes down to their diaper to ensure they stay awake while feeding. Keep an eye on your baby during feeds and try to ensure they are actively feeding- taking big gulps and swallows. Some pauses while nursing are normal but try to ensure they stay awake and feed well.
A healthy newborn who is receiving an adequate supply of breastmilk will have a good color, their skin should be well hydrated (including mouth and eyes), and they will be waking for feeds. Newborns should be fed every 2-3 hours. You will also likely notice they are starting to fill out and become bigger. It can be hard to notice subtle changes in their weight however, which is why weighing them frequently in the beginning is important.
Some warning signs include a baby that is too sleepy to wake for feeds, jaundice, poor weight gain, dark concentrated looking urine, not enough wet or dirty diapers, or fussiness that is consistent
Above all, trust your mama instinct. If you feel concerned that your baby is not getting enough breastmilk, reach out for help.