When you’re breastfeeding, it can be very difficult to tell how much your baby is drinking. And as a new mum, it’s only natural to worry about if your baby is getting enough breast milk. So I thought it would be helpful to look at some of the issues that make many mums think they don’t have enough milk and explain what might really be going on.
Reduced Breast Size
A few weeks into breastfeeding and again after 5-6 months, you may find that your breasts get smaller. When this happened to me, my son was 6 months old. He was fussy and feeding less, so I assumed that my milk was “drying up.” But a reducing breast size is normal. It’s actually a sign that your body is making the right amount of milk for your baby.
Shorter Feeding Duration
As your baby grows, you may find that you are breastfeeding for 5-10 minutes at a time rather than 30-40 minutes at a time. This is because, as your baby grows, he or she becomes more efficient at drinking, so they are draining your breast more quickly.
Plotting Under Average on Growth Charts
The most widely used growth charts are outdated and based on the measurements of both formula-fed and breast-fed babies. They were designed to plot the growth trends of populations, not to plot a single baby’s growth. So if all is well with your baby, don’t worry too much if he or she is plotting under-average growth rates.
No Milk to Express
The amount of milk you express is not an indication of how much milk you’re making. Many women have a great breastfeeding relationship with their baby but find that they are unable to express anything more than a drop. Milking your breasts is about more than the physical action. It’s also hormonal, and your baby can trigger all the right responses in you to make your milk flow easily.
Breasts Stopped Leaking or Never Leaked to Begin With
Many mums tell me that they knew they didn’t have enough milk because their breasts never leaked. Leaking breasts can be an indication that you have had a letdown (a hormonal response that makes your milk flow) or that the muscles in and around your nipples are not strong enough to hold the milk in. So if your breasts are not leaking, it may simply be that your nipples are doing a great job of storing your breast milk until it’s needed.
So how can you tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk?
- Your baby will wet 6-10 nappies (diapers) in a 24-hour period.
- From birth to day 5, you will see their poo change from black-green and sticky to yellow-mustard and runny. A few weeks later, your baby may poo once a day or once a week. As long as it’s not hard, it’s all perfectly normal.
- Your baby will have a nice skin colour, and its texture will be firm and elastic.
- Your baby will be alert, wakeful and, yes, even fussy and crying for some periods of the day. It’s all perfectly normal behaviour for a baby.
Please check your specific situation with your health professional.
Written by Lorraine Cuadro, Mum Founder and Breastfeeding Counsellor, The Essence of Breastfeeding.
For information on Lorraine’s eBook, Essential Steps to a Beautiful Breastfeeding Relationship, click here now.
To learn more about Lorraine and her other products and services, go to www.the-essence-of-breastfeeding.com. There’s a wealth of pregnancy and breastfeeding advice on her site! You can also follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ LorraineCuadro.