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Breastfeeding—how to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive about breastfeeding is: “how will I know if my baby is getting enough milk?”

The answer to this question may change as your baby grows from a newborn to an older baby.

The following information will help you to learn about your baby’s feeding behaviour, urine output and bowel motions which you need to understand in order to know if your baby is getting enough breast milk.

Day one after birth

  • Your baby will receive approximately half a teaspoon of colostrum per feed in the first 24 hours. Their stomach is the size of a small marble.
  • Colostrum is clear or yellowish in colour and is all your baby needs in the first few days. It is small in quantity, encouraging your baby to feed more frequently which provides stimulation of your breasts and gently initiates their digestive system.
  • Your baby will pass meconium (sticky black bowel motion) and have one wet nappy.

Day two after birth

  • Your baby receives approximately one teaspoon of colostrum per feed.
  • Your baby is likely to be more wakeful and may want to feed more frequently until your milk comes in on day three or four. This is normal newborn behaviour.
  • Your baby should be allowed to finish feeding from the first breast before switching to the other breast.
  • Bowel motions are soft green/black and your baby should have two wet nappies.

Day three after birth

  • You may notice your breasts beginning to feel fuller and slightly uncomfortable as your milk supply increases. To ease this, allow your baby to feed as frequently as they wish.
  • Your baby will feed at least six to eight times (or more) in a 24-hour period as breast milk is easily digested. These feeds may be clustered i.e. your baby may have several short feeds close together, especially after a long sleep.
  • Bowel motions change to a greenish brown colour, are less sticky and your baby should have at least three wet nappies.

Day four to seven after birth

  • Your breasts will continue to feel firmer and fuller as your milk supply increases to approximately 500 ml to 800 ml per day.
  • Your baby will feed eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period.
  • Allow your baby to finish the first breast before offering the second breast as the fat rich milk will allow them to feel fuller for longer and; therefore, more settled between feeds.
  • Bowel motions—at least two to three per day; they will change from lighter greenish-brown to yellowish-mustard in colour and can be watery or seedy. Your baby will have five to six wet nappies per day.

Day seven and beyond

  • Breast milk contains all the nutrients and fluid that your baby needs in the first six months of life. No other fluids are needed.
  • Be confident in knowing that your baby is receiving enough breast milk if they have five to six wet disposable nappies per day (or six to eight wet cloth nappies) and their urine is pale in colour.
  • You can expect there may be two to three loose bowel movements per day that are yellow or mustard in colour. After six weeks of age your baby’s bowel motions may decrease, but this is not a concern if weight gain and the number of wet nappies are adequate. Breastfed babies are rarely constipated.
  • Your baby should also be settled following most feeds. Your baby should look alert when awake and their mouth should be moist. In the early weeks at home, it is normal for your breasts to become soft as they adjust to your baby’s needs.

Growth spurts

  • As your baby grows they may have times where they will want to feed more often. Growth spurts, or periods of increased breastfeeds, commonly occur at around three, six and 12 weeks of age.
  • More frequent feeding is your baby’s way of building your milk supply to meet their growing needs.
  • Many women misinterpret this period to mean that their milk supply is insufficient. Continue to feed on demand and your baby’s feeding patterns should return to normal after two to three days. There is no need to stop breastfeeding.
Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-430098
Last modified 08/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 18/1/2014
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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