Every new mother, whether this is her first or fourth baby, worries "is my baby getting enough to eat?" Especially in the first week or so -- while your milk volume is building and the signs of an adequate feeding are more subjective -- how do you, as the new mother, really know that your baby is well fed? Immediately after your baby is born and your placenta is delivered, your body gets the signal to begin to produce breast milk. Until you can actually feel your breasts full before a feeding and feel your breasts emptied after a feeding, you will need to look for more subtle signs. The proof that you are making colostrum and will make breast milk is that you are thirsty! The proof that your colostrum/breast milk is coming out and feeding your baby is a gush of vaginal bleeding and/or feeling your uterus contract during or immediately following a breastfeeding. Another sign of colostrum/milk production is a general feeling of calm or even sleepiness while breastfeeding your baby.
After the baby is about one week of age or so, you will actually feel the breasts contracting while you are nursing, hear the baby swallowing while he/she suckles and notice the change in the fullness of your breasts before and after a breastfeeding. You may even notice the second breast leaking while you are breast feeding on the first side. These are all great signs of letdown -- your milk actually letting down from your breast to feed your baby.
Your baby's urine and bowel movement output will be clear proof to you that your baby is getting enought to eat. Count and write down how many times your baby urinates and moves his/her bowels in a 24-hour period. Repeat as often as you need to feel confident.
Your baby will need to urinate at least 6 times every 24 hours by day 4 of age. Some babies urinate more often. Babies urine should be clear and pale. If you notice pink or reddish specks which look like crystals in the urine, cantact baby's physician immediately. Disposable diapers, like Pampers, are so super absorbent you will need to add folded layers of toilet paper to actually find the urine. Use at least 6 sheets of good quality white toilet paper. For a little girl, fold the toilet paper into a narrow "mini-pad" that will fit between her legs. For a little boy, lay the 6 sheets directly on top of his penis. If you baby boy is circumcised, cover the top layer of toilet paper with lots and lots of A&D Ointment to prevent sticking. Call your baby's physician if you do not count at least 6 urines in 24 hours by 4 days of age.
The number of bowel movements in a 24 hour period may vary. Colostrum and breast milk are laxative. Some breastfed babies move their bowels in small amounts with every breastfeeding -- 7-12 times a day! Some breastfed babies go less often but much larger amounts. The number of bowel movements does not have to be the same but the volume of bowel movements should be the same each day. If your baby has infrequent bowel movements, you should count at least one massive extra large bowel movment at least every 2 to 3 days. Totally breastfed babies do not get constipated, so if you baby is not moving his/her bowels enough, call the baby's physician or a lactation consultant to observe your baby's feedin technique and check his/her weight gain.
The color of breastfeeding babies bowel movements are black at birth, then black/dark green, then green, then green/brown, then brown, then brown/yellow, then finally at about 7 days of age will resmble thin and loose french mustard yellow with "sesame"seeds" and "scrambled eggs".
Weight gain is a easy way to prove baby's adequate intake. You baby should regain his/her birth weight by 2 weeks of age (14 days). Then consistently gain 1/2 to 1 ounce or more every day. If you would like your baby's weight checked, call the baby's physicians's office and arrange a weight check or contact a lactation consultant to weigh your baby.
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