How do I know my baby is getting enough breastmilk? Three questions to ask to find out, plus tips on how to tell when your baby is hungry.

Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby, but new moms often wonder if their baby is getting enough milk from feedings. As a board-certified lactation consultant at Regions Hospital, the first thing I do when moms come to me with this concern is ask a few questions:

How often is your baby eating?

Babies breastfeed frequently and often in clusters. Frequent, effective feedings help your baby grow, and help ensure you have enough breastmilk for the next feeding.

In the early weeks, expect your baby to nurse 10 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. If your baby isn’t feeding at least 8 times over the course of a day, you do not see or hear swallowing during feedings, or if he seems discontent after most feedings, check in with a lactation consultant or your pediatrician. Your health plan or clinic can help you get in touch with a lactation consultant if you’re not connected to one already. They will check your baby’s weight and do a feeding evaluation to help you make sure that he is nursing well.

How many diapers are you changing?

For a newborn, the number of wet and poopy diapers should match your baby’s day of life. So on day 1, expect 1 wet and 1 poopy diaper; day 2: 2 wets and 2 poops, etc, through day 4. By day 5 and beyond, a breastfed baby should have at least 3-4 poops per day (yellow in color) and 5-6 wet diapers.

[Click on the image above to open full size or to print]

Call a lactation consultant or your pediatrician if this doesn’t line up with what you’re experiencing with your baby.

How do your breasts feel?

Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable at times, but it should not be painful. Pain in the breasts or nipples can be cause for concern, and you should talk to your doctor, midwife or a lactation consultant about it. Your breasts should feel softer at the end of a feeding. Emptying as much milk from your breasts as possible will help create more supply for the next feeding!

How to help your baby feed effectively

You can help make sure your baby is eating enough by looking for opportunities to breastfeed, rather than waiting until baby is hungry and crying. This poster is one of my favorite ways to help parents see their baby’s early feeding cues.

[Click on the image above to open full size or to print]

By feeding your baby when you see an early cue, you can help keep feedings calm. I also recommend avoiding the use of pacifiers in the first month.

Breastfeeding is a little different for every mom and baby, but if you feel like you’re struggling, please don’t hesitate to ask for help from a lactation consultant. Just like you support your baby with breastmilk, we’re here to support you!

Are you a HealthPartners or Park Nicollet member or patient?
Drop in weekly to ask a lactation consultant your questions in person.

  • Chris Clark has spent three decades helping women with breastfeeding. One of her proudest accomplishments was bringing Kangaroo Care, a method of caring for premature babies using skin-to-skin contact, to the United States when her own child was born prematurely. Since becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 1999, Chris has been involved with mother support groups, high-risk birthing centers and rural hospitals. She is certified to provide training to hospitals to assist them in becoming 'Baby Friendly," a World Health Organization designation that recognizes hospitals offering optimal care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. With Chris's help, Regions Hospital became Baby Friendly in January of 2015. Chris has a passion for developing mentoring programs to help aspiring Lactation Consultants develop their skills, and her four children and four grandchildren help keep her pretty busy, too!


    See more posts by Chris >

Sign up to receive our newsletter

Simple Share Buttons