How to ensure your baby is receiving enough breast milk

If your baby shows signs of hunger within 30 minutes of finishing a breastfeed, re-offer another breastfeed.

By Dr Aruna Savur

This is a question on every new parent’s mind when their baby breastfeeds. The answer is that you look for signs of effective and competent breastfeeding.

Here are some signs:

1. A stable position and a deep comfortable latch.

2. A good suck-swallow-breathe rhythm.

When the baby first latches on to your breast, they suck quickly, which aids in the milk letdown. This then changes into a deep slow suck with visible or audible swallows through the feed.

3. The baby seems content and well fed between feeding sessions.

4. Your baby’s diaper production is a good predictor of how much milk he’s receiving. In the first month, most breastfed babies wet six to ten diapers a day and soil at least three. The colour of the stool is also important: The first bowel movements are normally black and sticky, but by day three or four, they should be green, and by day four or five, they should be yellow and seedy.

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5. It’s natural for your baby’s weight to fluctuate during the first few days or weeks of his or her life. A new-born will lose around 5-7 percent of his body weight by the third or fourth day and be fine, but if he loses 10 percent or more, there may be a problem. By day 14, your baby should have regained their birth weight.

What can you do if you feel your supply of breast milk is low?

  • Check to see if your baby is correctly attached to the nipple and breast.

  • Massage and compress the breast as the baby sucks. This helps to empty the breast.

  • Increase the frequency of breastfeeds. This could happen every 2.5–3 hours.

  • If your baby shows signs of hunger within 30 minutes of finishing a breastfeed, re-offer another breastfeed.

  • Allow your baby to finish one breast before moving on to the other.

  • Supplemental feeds should be avoided unless indicated. These factors may contribute to a lack of interest in breastfeeding and have an impact on its effectiveness.

  • Stay hydrated. This is roughly 2.5–3 litres of fluids a day for most lactating mothers.

∙ Take care to get enough rest.

  • Seek help!

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Meet your lactation consultant at the earliest. An expert assessment of baby’s sucking skills and an

observed feed goes a long way in helping with issues, if any.

(The writer is Consultant Paediatrician & Certified Lactation Expert Motherhood Hospitals, Indiranagar, Bangalore)

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