Updated October 2018
Is He Getting Enough Milk?
This is one of the *prime* concerns of new moms, especially during those first few days before your milk comes in.
“I mean, my goodness, he’s only nursing for a few minutes and not much seems to be coming out. Is my baby getting enough milk??”
I have a comforting answer: probably YES.
**Only about 3% of nursing moms have a problem with supply; about 60% think they do.**
That said, it does happen, so here’s what to look for.
You Don’t Need Much!
Day 1 Stomach Size: A GRAPE
Yes, you heard me; on day 1, a newborn’s stomach is only about the size of a single grape. It can only hold about 1/6 to 1/4 ounce (5 to 7 ml) at a time.
During the first two days, the walls of the stomach will not expand to hold more. This is why very frequent feedings (10-12 times) are called for. It’s like driving a gas guzzler with a one gallon gas tank. Hence, only a small amount of colostrum is needed.
Day 3 Stomach Size: A ping-pong ball
By day 3, the stomach expands to roughly the size of a ping-pong ball. It holds about 3/4-9/10 ounce (22-27 ml).
Frequent feedings (8-12 times per day) are called for. Studies have shown that more frequent feedings will help to more rapidly increase a breastfeeding mother’s milk supply.
***Your milk should “come in” around 2-4 days postpartum.***
Day 10 Stomach Size: A large egg
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere… by day 10, a baby’s stomach is finally getting to be of size. It can hold 2-3 ounces (60-88 ml) at a time. The larger stomach capacity helps fuel the baby’s first major growth spurt at 10-14 days.
By Day 10, your milk should definitely be in. If it’s not, you need to speak to a LC right away.
But, no seriously, how do I know he’s getting enough?
Expect one dirty diaper on day one, two on day two…after the 4th day, baby should have at least three-four stools daily. For the first few days, your baby will still be passing meconium, which is dark and sticky (“tar poop”). After that, stools should become yellow in color.
The normal stool of a breastfed baby is loose and may be seedy (people who aren’t familiar with baby poop might think it’s diarrhea…but it’s not). The stools of formula-fed babies are a bit more firm, more like the consistency of peanut butter.
Similar to dirty diapers, baby should have one wet diaper on day one, two on day two, etc. Once your milk comes in, expect five-six+ wet diapers every 24 hours. Many disposable diapers have a line indicator that changes color when exposed to urine. You can also smell or feel the weight of the diaper to see if it’s wet.
You should also be able to hear your baby swallowing. Okay, maybe not you, but someone who can get down to baby’s level should be able to hear swallowing, gulping, etc.
If your baby isn’t having the expected number of wet or dirty diapers, call your pediatrician right away because, YES, some moms do have legitimate supply problems — and if your baby isn’t getting any milk, it’s an emergency. You may not be happy about it, but formula is your friend and – at the end of the day – baby’s gotta eat.
Establishing Your Supply
If you plan on breastfeeding at all, it’s really important that you don’t skip feeds right now — especially in the first week. The process of Lactogenesis Stage III (establishing and maintaining your milk supply) relies on milk being removed in order to keep up with demand.
Look, I know… you’re exhausted and you are tempted to supplement… try not to. It may affect your supply in the long term and tends to be a downward spiral of supplementing, producing less milk, supplementing more, producing even less… and on and on.
Having said that, if you are totally struggling right now, do what you need to do to stay sane. If you do supplement, try to pump to keep your supply up.
Remember: Do the best you can, but don’t kill yourself over it.
**Need Breastfeeding Support?**
- Find a Lactation Consultant in your area
- The La Leche League website or toll free number: 1-877-4LA-LECHE
- The hospital where you delivered — they usually have BFing support groups that meet regularly
- LLL support groups in your area (I highly recommend BFing support groups of any kind!)
- KellyMom (breastfeeding advice website)
CONGRATULATIONS!! Did I forget to tell you???