Jessica Donahue, RN, IBCLC, Baptist Health
The second most common reason new mothers stop breastfeeding too soon is perceived insufficient milk supply. Low or insufficient milk supply is a common concern among new mothers even though almost all new mothers make an over-abundance of milk for their newborns. Reading the signs of effective feeding and abundant breast milk supply can be difficult, so what are they? How does a new mom know they are making plenty of milk for their newborn?
When you are getting breastfeeding established in the first two weeks, the best way to assess breast milk supply is by looking at the number of wet and dirty diapers your infant has in 24 hours, and his weight gain in the first two weeks of life. When you are discharged from the hospital, the nurses will give you a feeding diary. Each day you fill out this diary, there will be a daily goal for wet and dirty diapers.
Following are guidelines for knowing your infant is getting enough milk in the first two weeks:
- Your infant is meeting the goal for wets and dirties each day as outlined on your feeding diary.
- By the fifth day of life if your infant has 5-6 wet diapers and at least two dirty diapers.
- Your infant regains his birth weight by two weeks of age.
- Frequent feeding is normal for newborns; do not assume frequent feeding means not enough milk.
- MINUTES DON’T MATTER. The length of time an infant spends at the breast is not important. What is important is that you see signs of effective feeding; drinking and swallowing. An infant that is very efficient at feeding can be done in 5-10 minutes. Judge effective feedings by watching the baby, not the clock.
For nine months your infant was held constantly and fed continuously. They come out of the perfect environment of the womb and need food and warmth. Both of those needs are provided when breastfeeding. Expect frequent, small feedings and watch your infant’s wet and dirty diapers and weight gain to let you know that he or she is getting everything they need!
Every newborn infant should be seen by their pediatrician within the first week of life to assure adequate intake and growth. If by day 5-6 you do not feel that you are providing enough milk to your infant, you could benefit by also making an appointment with a lactation consultant.
Successful breastfeeding happens with support. Jessica Donahue is an RN, IBCLC at Baptist Health Expressly For You, an outpatient lactation center dedicated to helping new mothers make breastfeeding easy. This article is the third in a four-part series that will help new mothers get breastfeeding off to a good start and offer resolutions to the three most common problems new mothers encounter with breastfeeding.