How much breast milk does my baby need?

How-to-know-if-your-baby-is-getting-enough-breast-milk-(1).jpgThe answer to this question may change as your baby grows but we have put together some information to educate you about your baby’s feeding behaviour, urine output and bowel movements. These are all important factors to understand to ensure your baby is getting enough breast milk.

Day one after birth

Congratulations! You are now a new mum. It’s now time to learn a little bit more about your baby’s nutritional needs.

Your breast milk contains a substance called colostrum which is clear or yellowish in colour. In the first few days of birth, colostrum contains everything your baby needs to nourish its tiny body. Colostrum is small in quantity, which encourages your baby to feed more frequently. Your breasts will become stimulated after frequent feeding and your baby’s digestive system will gently initiate upon frequent feeding.

Babies are tiny little things which have a stomach the size of a small marble. In the first 24 hours of life, your baby will receive approximately ½ a teaspoon of colostrum per feed. As a result, your baby will pass meconium, which is a sticky black bowel motion and have a very wet nappy.

Day two after birth

Your baby is likely to be more wakeful and may want to feed more frequently until your milk flows properly on day three or four. Your baby should be allowed to finish feeding from the first breast before switching to the other breast. On day two, your baby receives approximately one teaspoon of colostrum per feed. Baby’s bowel motions are soft green/black and your baby should soil two wet nappies.

Day three after birth

As the days go by, you may notice your breasts beginning to feel fuller and slightly uncomfortable as your milk supply increases. Allow your baby to feed as frequently as they wish. This will ease the swelling in your breasts.

Your baby’s appetite will increase by day three and will feed six to eight times (or more) in a 24 hour period. These feeds may be clustered, meaning your baby may have several short feeds in a short time especially if they had a long sleep. Baby’s bowel motions change to a green/brown colour and will become less sticky. By this stage your baby should have at least three wet nappies.

Day four to seven after birth

By now you will be a breastfeeding expert! Your breasts will continue to feel firmer and fuller as your milk supply increases to approximately 500- 800 mL per day.
You are going to be a busy bee by this stage because 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.

Your baby’s bowels will be moving at least two to three times per day leaving you with lots of wet nappies to change. Your baby’s faeces will change from lighter greenish-brown to yellowish-mustard in colour and can be watery or seedy.

Day seven and beyond

Did you know breast milk contains all the nutrients and fluid that your baby needs in the first six months of life? No other fluids are needed during this time.

If your baby is soiling five to six disposable nappies (or six to eight cloth nappies) per day and their urine is a pale colour, your baby is receiving enough breast milk. You can expect that your baby may have two to three loose bowel movements per day that are yellow 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.

By this stage, your baby should be settled and calm 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

It is inevitable that your baby’s size will grow in the blink of an eye. As your baby grows, there will be times when your baby wants to feed more often. Growth spurts or periods of increased breastfeeds commonly occur at around three, six weeks 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.

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