“My milk is not enough and my baby keeps on crying. My mother asked to bottle feed the expressed milk to my baby, “said the young mother whose baby is only a month old.
Disappointment is written all over her face and guilt consumed her.
Oh mommy, do not blame yourself! Let’s find out the signs of a baby having enough milk.
- Baby latch regularly
Baby is nursing frequently, 8-12 times per 24 hour period. For the first few days, mothers will produce thick nutrient rich colostrum in smaller amount. Therefore baby will need to nurse more frequently to signal the breast to produce more milk to match baby’s demand. Feed baby according to baby’s hunger cue. When baby is growing though growth spurt, they may feed every hourly.
- Wet diapers
A baby with enough milk will produce enough urine. Usually after the 5th day, babies will have 6-8 dirty diapers. The urine should be clear or straw colour and odourless. This is important to ensure that the baby is not dehydrated. Make a note during each diaper change if necessary.
- Baby’s suckling, puffy cheeks, and swallowing sound
Observe the latching, make sure the baby’s latching is correct and the baby is close to the mother. When baby is nursing, you should see that the baby’s cheek is puffed with milk and there will be audible sound of swallowing that correlates with the throat up and down movement.
- The mother’s breasts are softer and lighter
If the baby is ready for a breastfeeding session, usually the mother’s breasts will also show signs. The breasts will be full and heavy and the mother’s clothes will start to get wet down to let down reflex. After latching her baby, mother’s breasts should be softer and lighter. It is an important sign that the baby’s has had the mother’s milk.
- Babies are full and sleepy
Usually, babies who had enough milk, will unlatch on their own and sleep until the next session. This is especially true for babies younger than 2 months old. After 2 months, the baby will have a longer wake period depending on their age.
- Optimal weight gain and meeting developmental milestone.
The most accurate sign that a baby has enough milk is weight gain. During the first 4 months, the baby’s weight should increase by at least 500g per month. If there is a decrease in the first 10 days, it should not be more than 10% of birth weight. Baby should be alert and active when awake and meeting all the developmental milestone.
If the baby continues to cry even after feeding, please check if the baby has other underlying problems. Common causes of baby crying are colic, too hot or too cold, wanting to be hug, discomfort, or pain (bacterial infection, etc.). The mother needs support to convince herself that she has given enough milk to the baby. When direct latching is adequate and optimal, there should not be a need to top up with formula milk or expressed breast milk. Please consult with your doctor and lactation counsellor if you have any further problems or questions related to your baby’s health and breastfeeding.
Writer : Dr. Aimi Jaafar