Human breast milk is undoubtedly the best nutrition for a newborn human baby, and babies need nothing in addition this species-specific nutrition. Mothers can (and should) feel good about their decision to breastfeed, although many mothers ask the question, “Since I can’t “see” how much breastmilk my baby drinks at feedings, how can I be sure he is getting enough to eat?”
During the first 2 to 3 weeks after birth, babies have several ways of telling us they are getting the milk they need and getting enough to eat if we just look for the signs and keep a feeding and elimination log.
- Babies should have around 5 to 8 wet diapers and 3 dirty diapers daily in a 24 hour period after mother’s milk comes in usually by the 5th day after birth.
- Babies should feed often (at least every 2-3 hours and 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period). This means waking them at night until they have sufficient weight gain.
- It is perfectly normal for newborn babes to “cluster feed” (eat every 45 minutes or so, several times in a row); therefore, how many times they feed in a day is more important than how often. Once they are several weeks old, they will usually settle into more predictable feeding routines.
- Baby should be relaxed after a feed. Arms floppy and hands unclenched and relaxed.
- Baby should naturally wake on her own every 2 to 3 hours and be ready to eat again.
- Baby should be happy and satiated. Fussy, crying baby in the first 2 weeks after birth is usually a sign of hunger.
- In the first month, Mother’s breast should feel softer after a feeding due to milk removal.
- Mother should call the pediatrician for a weight check if signs are unclear, or if she is unsure.
If your newborn baby meets the above signs, regains its birth weight and is gaining 1 oz. per day by the first two weeks, you may be assured that the baby is receiving the needed nutrition and getting enough to eat. If you have any concerns or doubts, see your pediatrician immediately. For free hands on support and help visit your local La Leche League. For one near you go to http://www.llli.org/