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 enough 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
four 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, contact 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
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—seven to 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
movement at least every two to three 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 feeding 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 resemble 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 physician's office and
arrange a weight check or contact a lactation consultant to weigh your
For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.