Hey mama, if you are in the trenches of the first few weeks postpartum and breastfeeding we know one of your biggest concerns is “how do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?” Since the first few weeks of breastfeeding can be critical to establishing a solid milk supply it’s important to have these key markers in mind:
For the first week of life, you can use your babies wet and dirty diapers as a marker of how hydrated they are. From birth to day of life #5 you’ll want to ensure your baby has 1 wet and 1 dirty diaper per day of life. Your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant will likely have you tracking these counts to make sure your baby is on track. Even after the first week of life, you can always come back to this marker to check in as reassurance your baby is getting enough to eat.
It’s normal for all babies to lose weight during the first two weeks of life. After the first 10-14 days baby should be back to birth weight and continuing to gain 4-7oz/week. Babies grow predictably at this age so it can be a great concrete marker to help provide reassurance that your baby is getting enough.
This one could be tricky in the earlier weeks since babies do have a high suck need and many babies can just keep sucking even if they have gotten what they need! You can check to see if your baby is fully satisfied when they unlatch themselves from the breast, have a relaxed body posture, have open palms and they appear content. Babies love to spend time close to mom so keeping them skin to skin and allowing them unrestricted access to the breast is helpful for them to stimulate your milk supply and get what they need when they need it!
During the first six weeks postpartum your baby is helping to establish your milk supply. It’s normal to feel more breast fullness (known as engorgement) during these early weeks that softens after babies feedings. After your baby has an adequate feeding your breast should feel less full and be softer to the touch. While your breasts are never fully “empty” the softening that happens after a feeding whether it’s via breastfeeding or pumping is a sign that your baby is removing adequate milk which is key to a stellar milk supply.
After the first 6 weeks postpartum it’s normal for your milk supply to regulate, meaning that your breast may feel softer. Many parents fear that this means they are losing their milk supply or that their baby hasn’t been getting enough to eat. These markers can be helpful to check in on at any point during your feeding journey to provide essential peace of mind while you navigate life with a new baby.
If you have concerns about whether your baby is getting enough milk or gaining enough weight, having the support of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is essential. To find an IBCLC in your area you can contact the USLCA here.
Authored by Jaren Soloff, Registered Dietitian, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at Full CRCL and mama to one.