How do I know my infant is getting enough?
Every parent should know the signs that indicate their infant is receiving enough breastmilk. Knowing the signs of good nutrition and hydration will offer parents the feedback they need to assess how breastfeeding is going.
Here are the basic signs:
- A minimal of 8-12 feedings every 24 hours; One wet diaper for however many days old the baby is e.g. 1 Day Old = 1 Wet Diaper, 2 Day Old = 2 Wet Diapers, 3 Day Old = 3 Wet Diaper–I think you get the picture. By day 6, the 6th day after the baby was born, you should expect 6-8 wet diapers daily and 3-4 yellow seedy like stool; by day 6 you should not be seeing any dark tarry meconium stool
- Regained birth weight by day 10, approximately 2 weeks after delivery. Then 5-7 ounces of weight gain/week.
Weight will be assessed at your well baby visits, focus on number of feedings daily and wet and dirty diapers. If you are not get 8-12 feedings daily or the number of wet and dirty diapers expected, call your pediatrician.
Lots of parents ask me “how long should I feed on each side” and my answer is as long as the baby wants with common sense as your guide. I really believe that anyone who gives a specific time on how long a baby should nurse on each side per feeding does not know what they are talking about. There are simply too many variables for anyone to know for sure and every baby and situation is different.
Face the facts:
- Every baby is different (maturity, sucking strength, abilities)
- Every mother is different
- Both of mom’s breast are different (the right is never the same as the left; there are often differences in size/shape/nipples/glandular tissue/milk ducts)
- Milk production changes throughout the day
……..Basically, what I am trying to say is that no two feedings are exactly the same.
So how do parents know how long is enough?
Well, let’s follow the baby’s lead to start with. You usually alter the breast you start with for each feeding. For example if you begin the feeding at 8 am on the right breast, then the next feeding at 10 am should initiate on the left side. I call the first breast you offer, THE MAIN MEAL. The baby will stay on this first side until they are DONE with their MAIN MEAL. (We don’t want to offer dessert until the MAIN MEAL is concluded).
How do you know they are DONE?
They stay on until they fall off, fall asleep, or they are no longer vigorously sucking—using common sense as your guide. I am not worried about overfeeding (I do not believe you can overfeed a breastfed baby) so I am only truly concerned about feedings that are short, cumulative 5-10 minute feedings in the beginning, the early days, make me nervous. As your baby grows and develops and proves they know what they are doing, feedings may become shorter, but infants should remain VIGOROUS on the breast. Vigor is defined as actively nursing and transferring milk. SO this means if your infant nurses for 5 minutes and falls off or falls asleep (in the first few days), my first instinct would be to wake that baby up and get them to nurse more on the same side or nurse them frequently and often. When your little one is done with their main meal, I ALWAYS offer dessert (sometimes the baby wants dessert and sometimes they do not, but I ALWAYS offer). In the beginning, it is not uncommon for a baby to takea small break after eating THE MAIN MEAL, only to awaken soon and look for dessert.