Got Breastmilk?
4 Easy Ways To Tell If Your Newborn Is Getting Enough Milk

Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down.  The Fresh Prince of Bel Air may have made this little ditty famous, but it’s the anthem of new motherhood.  One day you’re sitting on your couch eating a carton of ice cream that’s resting on your baby bump and the next your baby is sitting on your chest and the reality of the situation has fully sunk in. 

You are responsible for this little life and the first task you are given: feed the baby.  

So many moms have a desire to breastfeed their baby (over 80% according to the Centers for Disease Control) but worry and doubt quickly creep in.  Wondering if baby is getting enough breastmilk is the most common concern that breastfeeding mothers face. 

mom feeding baby from breast
Happy baby sleeping on moms chest

Unfortunately, babies don’t come with a milk gauge that lets us know when they’re full but breastfeeding your newborn doesn’t need to be a mystery.  Surprisingly, there are many ways to tell if your newborn baby is getting enough milk at the breast:

  • Wet diapers are piling up.  Paying attention to the number of diapers your baby wets is a great indicator of milk intake.  As the old saying goes, “what goes in, must come out.”  By baby’s fifth day of life, look for at least 6 wet diapers a day.  
  • Feedings are frequent.  Babies have small tummies and breastmilk is quickly digested, which means babies need to eat frequently.  Aim for at least 8-12 feedings in 24 hours.  Although frequent feeding means less sleep for mom and dad, having lots of time at the breast helps ensure baby is intaking all the calories they need.It also helps mom establish a good milk supply.
  • Baby is content.  After baby is done breastfeeding, look for signs that baby is content.  A satisfied baby may fall asleep after a feed or be awake and alert.  If baby is still showing signs of hunger such as rooting (turning their head to try and find the breast), chewing on their hands, or thrusting their tongue, try bringing the baby back to the breast.
  • Baby is gaining adequate weight.  Babies will lose weight after they are born; up to 10% of their body weight is considered normal.  Once they regain their birth weight (typically by 2 weeks of life), baby should gain about 5-7oz a week.  Don’t fret, there is no need to buy a baby scale and weigh your baby every day. Leave that job to your pediatrician.  They will alert you if your baby isn’t gaining appropriately.

But whether you’re preparing to have your first baby, or you have just brought home your fifth, all moms still worry.  Can babies be at the breast too much?  Is my baby’s latch correct?  How many times can my baby spit up on this sweatshirt before I should wash it? If you’re looking for reassurance, there are ways to get the support you need:

  • Lactation Consultants.  They’re trained, educated, and certified to help mothers breastfeed their babies.  You can find them at some pediatrician’s offices, your local hospitals, or you may even have some independent consultants in your area.  They can help with all breastfeeding problems and can help you gauge if your baby is getting enough breastmilk.
  • La Leche League.  Le Leche League meetings offer peer-to-peer breastfeeding support.  Meetings occur all over the United States and are often led by Lactation Consultants or other breastfeeding savvy women.  This link can help you locate the nearest meeting group to you:  
  • Breastfeeding cafes.  These are often found at local hospitals that provide labor and delivery services.  They are like Le Leche League meetings (where breastfeeding concerns are handled in a group setting) with a knowledgeable leader mediating the discussions.  Check with your local hospital to see if there are meetings available to you.  Bonus; they’re usually free!

Now, before you move on to changing a diaper or trying to sneak in a quick shower while baby naps, do me a favor.  Look at your baby and take one big, long, deep breath.  Your baby has exactly what he/she needs; you!  You’re doing a great job, mama.


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About the author

Chelsea Johnson is a birth doula and certified breastfeeding specialist living in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. After graduating college and spending 8 years in a corporate gig, Chelsea left to pursue her passion for helping new moms and babies navigate the joy, and often uncertainty, that accompanies pregnancy, breastfeeding, and postpartum recovery. Birth aside, Chelsea’s recipe for a perfect day includes hockey watching, bread baking and coffee drinking. To learn more about Chelsea, visit Birth Doulas of Pittsburgh:

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