Breastmilk: Will I Have Enough?
If you are like 90% of other hopeful breastfeeders, you are probably worried about not having enough milk to breastfeed your baby successfully. You want breastfeeding to work, but you’ve never done it before and perhaps your mother and sisters never did either. You may even have friends who have told you about how they just didn’t have enough milk for their babies. As a lactation professional and doula, I often hear “If I can” as a response when asked if my clients are planning breastfeed.
There is a lot of worry surrounding milk supply and if there will be enough. Afterall, your baby has been fed exclusively through their umbilical cord from their placenta until now and all you have had to do is make sure you’re also feeding yourself! The idea that baby will feed exclusively from something that does not indicate how many ounces are being removed from it can be a little overwhelming for more people than you may realize. It’s not just you!
Breastfeeding is all about supply and demand. The more often you feed your baby, the more milk the body will produce. Of course there are the rare instances where the body actually doesn’t produce enough milk, but this is not the norm. Make sure you find a qualified lactation professional if you struggle with breastfeeding – sooner rather than later!
A good latch is essential for adequate removal of breastmilk by the baby. Pain during latch and breastfeeding is NOT normal and is indicative of a poor latch. Just unlatch the baby by inserting your little finger into their mouth by their cheek to break the suction and remove the baby and relatch. You and baby are both learning and it will take some time to get it right – don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away because it rarely ever does!
One of the best indicators that your baby is getting milk is by watching their suck and swallow pattern. Make sure you are observing plenty of swallows when you feed your baby. A baby that is falling asleep does not mean they are full. It takes a lot of work to breastfeed and can be tiring to babies. Watch for cues that your baby is getting less tense and more relaxed. Make sure to stimulate your baby if they are falling asleep before you think it is time to finish a feeding. Changing their diaper can wake them up enough to try again and see if they are still hungry.
Remember that if it is coming out, it is going in. Your baby’s diaper is one of the best ways you can tell that they are eating enough. A breastfed baby will produce about one wet and dirty diaper per day they are old up to day six. Meaning, they have one wet and one dirty diaper at day one, two wet and two dirty diapers at day two, three on day three, and so on until day six and they stabilize at six dirty diapers per day. A quarter size amount in the diaper counts as a dirty diaper, any less does not. Normal stool of a breastfed baby is loose, yellow, and a bit seedy. Once your milk supply stabilizes between 6 and 8 weeks, the number of dirty diapers decreases, so don’t fret if all of a sudden you see fewer or even no dirty diapers for a couple of days at a time. If your baby is still gaining weight (a little less than an ounce per day of life) at pediatrician appointments, all is well!
If at any point, you worry about your milk supply or your baby’s weight gain, make an appointment with a qualified lactation professional. Goal number one is always to feed the baby!