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Have you got enough Breast Milk?

woman in yellow breastfeeding

When you’re breastfeeding it can be very difficult to tell how much your baby is drinking.  And as a new mum it’s only natural to worry about if your baby is getting enough breast milk.  So I thought it would be helpful to look at some of the issues that make many mums think they don’t have enough milk and explain what might really be going on.

Reduced Breast Size 

A few weeks into breastfeeding and again after 5-6 months you may find that your breasts get smaller.  When this happened to me my son was 6 months old.  He was fussy and feeding less so I assumed that my milk was “drying up”.  But a reducing breast size is normal.  It’s actually a sign that your body is making the right amount of milk for your baby.

Shorter Feeding Duration

As your baby grows you may find that you are breastfeeding for 5-10 minutes at a time rather than 30-40 minutes at a time.  This is because as your baby grows he or she becomes more efficient at drinking, so they are draining your breast more quickly.

Plotting Under Average on Growth Charts

The most widely used growth charts are outdated and based on the measurements of both formula fed and breast fed babies.  They were designed to plot the growth trends of populations not to plot a single baby’s growth.  So if all is well with your baby, don’t worry too much if he or she plotting under average growth rates. 

No Milk to Express

The amount of milk you express is not an indication of how much milk you’re making.  Many women have a great breastfeeding relationship with their baby but find that they are unable to express anything more than a drop.  Milking your breasts is about more than the physical action.  It’s also hormonal and your baby can trigger all the right responses in you to make your milk flow easily.  

Breasts Stopped Leaking or Never Leaked to Begin With

Many mums tell me that they knew they didn’t have enough milk because their breasts never leaked.  Leaking breasts can be an indication that you have had a let down (a hormonal response which makes your milk flow) or that the muscles in and around your nipples are not strong enough to hold the milk in. So if your breasts are not leaking it may simply be that your nipples are doing a great job of storing your breast milk until it’s needed. 

So how can you tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk?

  • Your baby will wet 5-6 nappies in a 24 hour period.
  • From birth to day 5 you will see their poo change from black-green and sticky to yellow-mustard and runny.  A few weeks later your baby may poo once a day or once a week it’s all perfectly normal.
  • Your baby will have a nice skin colour and its texture will be firm and elastic.
  • Your baby will be alert, wakeful and yes even fussy and crying for some periods of the day.  It’s all perfectly normal behaviour for a baby.
Lorraine Cuadro volunteers most of her time in helping new and experienced mums to breastfeed. As a mother of two she has experienced many breastfeeding issues first hand and knows how difficult it can be. Her passion for breastfeeding is supported by her current role as a breastfeeding counsellor.

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