Source: La Leche League International website page: http://www.llli.org/FAQ/enough.html
This may be the most asked question
for La Leche League Leaders. It is understandable, since breasts are neither
see-through nor marked off in ounces. Thank goodness there are other signs that
indicate baby is getting enough milk.
Typically during the first few days,
while the baby is receiving mother's thick, immunity-boosting colostrum, he
will wet only one or two diapers per day.
Once mother's milk comes in, usually
on the third or fourth day, the baby should begin to have 6-8 wet cloth diapers
(5-6 wet disposable diapers) per day. (An easy way to feel the weight of a wet
disposable diaper is to pour 2-4 tablespoons of water in a dry diaper.)
In addition, most young babies will
have at least two to five bowel movements every 24 hours for the first several
months, although some babies will switch to less frequent but large bowel
movements at about 6 weeks.
A baby that is sleeping rather than
feeding every 2-3 hours or is generally lethargic may need to be assessed by a
health care provider to make sure that he is adequately hydrated.
These are additional important signs
that indicate your baby is receiving enough milk:
- The baby nurses frequently averaging at least 8-12
feedings per 24-hour period.
- The baby is allowed to determine the length of the
feeding, which may be 10 to 20 minutes per breast or longer.
- Baby's swallowing sounds are audible as he is
- The baby should gain at least 4-7 ounces per week after
the fourth day of life.
- The baby will be alert and active, appear healthy, have
good color, firm skin, and will be growing in length and head
The physical act of breastfeeding is
more than the quantity of milk that is supplied, as you will find once you hold
your baby in your arms. Breastfeeding is warmth, nutrition, and mother's love
all rolled into one. Understanding and appreciating the signs of knowing when
your baby is getting enough to eat is the one of the most important things a
new mother can learn. If you have any concerns regarding your baby, they should
be addressed with your health care practitioner.
If you do need to increase your milk
supply after keeping track of wet diapers, bowel movements and weight gain,
there are several options you can try to increase your milk supply. See our FAQ
on "Increasing Your Milk Supply" and refer to our Web resource page on milk supply issues
or further information. Keep in touch with your health care provider if your
baby is not gaining well or is losing weight. In most cases, improved
breastfeeding techniques will quickly resolve the situation, but occasionally,
weight gain may indicate a health problem.