A families’ worry on whether or not their baby is receiving enough milk is probably one of the most frequently reported complaints/fears we hear. It is important to keep in mind that this concern is very common and is a leading reason why moms will stop breastfeeding sooner than they planned.
The good news is, knowledge and surrounding yourself with a good team to support you will be key to your success and can help ease these concerns! Read along for some tips that will help you feel confident that your breastfed baby is receiving enough milk.
Liquid Gold. When a baby arrives and is placed on you, skin to skin, after delivery, you may see them rooting and searching for the nipple. You may instantly wonder what your baby will eat if your milk isn’t “in” yet. I hear this far too often on the Labor and Delivery floor. A prenatal class with an IBCLC comes in handy so that moms have the knowledge of what to expect during pregnancy, which can help ease this anxiety in the early days after birth. What would you learn? That indeed you do have milk! Colostrum, the first milk you will have, is in fact milk. Commonly known as liquid gold, this super milk, and all its goodness is packed full of nutrients into very small volumes… drops of milk that will increase in volume sometime between day 3 and day 5 of life. If your baby doesn’t latch initially, express drops of Colostrum to feed to your baby. Not only is this Colostrum incredibly nourishing for your newborn, but ensuring you express it, will help encourage your abundant milk to arrive in the following days.
Feeding Frequency. During hospital stay and the next weeks to come, ensure the baby is being offered the breast 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. Yes, even at night!
Feeding Cues. Pay attention to your baby and look for feeding cues so that you can begin nursing prior to a baby crying. This will help encourage a successful feed. Feeding cues include tightly closed fists, rapid eye movement, rooting, hand to mouth, and turning his/her head searching for the breast. After you see these cues, reference tips for achieving optimal position and latch, and offer both breasts to feed.
Successful Transfer. Proper positioning and a good latch will help you to know that your baby is feeding successfully. You will be pain-free and the baby will have a wide-open seal, good rhythmic suckling and you can listen for suck-to-swallow patterns. Watch the baby, not the clock or the app on your phone. After a feeding, does your baby look relaxed? Those tightly closed fists should open and relax. Your breasts feel less full too. These are hallmarks of a successful feed.
Diaper counts. Your LC and pediatrician will ask you about diaper counts so it is helpful to pay attention to those. Each day you will notice an increase in wet diapers and the stool changing from the dark tar looking meconium to yellow seedy stool. These details will help provide your pediatrician and LC with information on how breastfeeding is going.
Baby’s weight. Your baby will typically lose weight in the initial days after birth. Using the previously mentioned tips of paying attention to feeding cues, feed frequency, and successful transfer will help your baby regain the lost weight. The hospital team, LC, and pediatrician will be monitoring this weight loss, which is normal. Post-hospital discharge, the pediatrician and LC can see you and assess things are going well.
Keep in mind that this is a learning experience between you and your baby.
We highly encourage connecting with a Lactation Professional prior to and after birth, to help ensure you are positioned properly with an optimal latch and have a solid understanding of feeding cues and frequency. And remember, there are always techniques and tools like massaging the breasts and pumping to supplement the baby with breast milk, that can assist to get you on track ensuring mom and baby are both healthy and thriving!
Do you have a tip to help other moms feel confident their baby is receiving enough breastmilk? Share below!