Frequently Asked Questions about breastfeeding

How do I know my baby is getting enough to eat?

Breastmilk is the normal food for your baby, providing all the fluids and nutrients that your baby needs. Breastfed babies, who are nursing well, should need no other food or liquid for the first 6 months of life.

Colostrum is the first milk that a mother produces. Colostrum is present long before your baby is born. Colostrum is rich in proteins and contains a lot of antibodies. It is like giving your baby its first immunization. During the first days of life your baby cannot handle a lot of food. Babies eat approximately ½ of an ounce (one tablespoon) per feeding. Your colostrum is all that your baby needs.

To make more milk, milk must be removed from the breast – by baby, or pump, or hand expression. Babies must be latched onto the breast well in order to feed well. Babies take small frequent meals. A baby’s stomach stretches, but it starts out the size of a marble!

Babies often eat every 1 ½ – 3 hours or 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. A baby should eat well, as often as they want. It is not unusual for babies to cluster feed in the evenings – take small, frequent feedings. It is also not unusual for a baby to sleep for 4-5 hours. If there are more feedings during the day, there will be a longer sleep at night. Watch your baby for hunger signs – smacking lips, suckling, hands to mouth. When you see these signs, offer the baby your breast even if they are not crying and fully awake.

You should hear swallowing; a soft “kuh” or “sigh” like sound. You should see your baby’s jaw move rhythmically in a suck, swallow, and pause rhythm of one suck per second after the mature milk comes in. Mature milk comes in on day 3 or 4. Your baby will come off the breast when he is finished. Your breasts will feel “softer” after feedings than before. Watch your baby – not the clock – change sides whenever you like, or not at all.

Output during the first 5 days of life

1st day2nd day3rd day4th day5th day
1 wet2-3 wets3-4 wets4-5 wets5-6 wets
1 stool2 stools2-3 stools3-4 stools4-5 stools

How do I know when to seek assistance?

You need to call for assistance if:

  • Your baby is nursing less than 8 times in 24 hours
  • Your baby has fewer wet or dirty diapers than on the chart above
  • Your baby appears hungry after feedings
  • You experience breast or nipple soreness
  • Your baby is not suckling actively or is suckling for brief periods and falling asleep

I look forward to helping you with your breastfeeding concerns.