Signs that your baby is getting nourished

Every new mother, whether this is her first or fourth baby, worries whether her baby is getting enough to eat or not. 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. For the baby, what goes in must come out, so we track wet and poopy diapers. For you: the proof that you are making colostrum and will make breast milk is that you are thirsty! Additional signals are 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.

Hard vs. soft: Breast fullness can tell you if baby is feeding enough

After the baby is about one week of age or so, you might feel the letdown reflex or breasts contracting while you are nursing, you should hear the baby swallowing while he/she suckles and should be able to 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 breastfeeding on the first side. These are all great signs of letdown—your milk actually letting down from your breast to feed your baby.

Urine color and frequency

Your baby's urine and bowel 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 four to six times every 24 hours by day four of age. Some babies urinate more often. Babies’ urine should be clear and light. If you notice pink or reddish specks or spots that look like pink crystals in the urine, contact baby's physician immediately. Disposable diapers, like Pampers, are so super absorbent you may need to add folded layers of toilet paper to actually find the urine. Use at least six 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 six sheets directly on top of his penis. If your 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 four to six good, soaking wet diapers in 24 hours by four days of age.

Number and quality of bowel movements

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—six to 12 times a day! Some breastfed babies go less often but in much larger amounts. Exclusively breastfed babies do not get constipated, so if your baby is not moving his/her bowels enough, or they are not yellow and seedy, 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 day four or five, the poops will resemble thin and loose yellow mustard with milk curds that looks like scrambled eggs.

Weight gain is another 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 ½ to one 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 drop in to any of our Main Line Health breastfeeding support groups or a lactation consultant to weigh your baby.