“Is my baby getting enough nutrition? Am I producing enough breastmilk?” Every breastfeeding mother finds herself looking for answers to these questions. If your baby is getting his feed from a bottle, it’s easy to judge the amount of milk being drunk but in the case of breastfeeding, judging the amount of milk being consumed can be quite difficult. The best way to check your breast milk supply is to take a closer look at your baby’s behaviour and development. Here are some of the signs to look out for.
Inadequate weight gain
In the first few days of their lives, babies lose up to 10% of their body weight. However, this is temporary and your baby should have gained enough weight to get back to his birth weight within the first fortnight. If your baby is getting enough breastmilk, he/she should be gaining around 100 grams every few days. If your baby isn’t gaining weight at a fast enough pace, it could be a sign of inadequate breast milk supply. If your baby hasn’t started showing signs of weight gain by the first week, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Fewer dirty diapers
One of the primary indicators of evaluating the amount of milk your baby gets is the frequency with which their diapers need to be changed. A newborn infant should dirty his diaper at least 3-4 times a day. A healthy motion is mustard-coloured and creamy. Though the number of motions passed may reduce as the baby grows older, this texture and colour should remain the same.
90% of your breastmilk is water. This is the only source of hydration for your baby. Hence, if you’re not able to give your baby enough breastmilk, he has a chance of dehydration. Dark yellowish urine is one of the most easily recognizable signs of dehydration and insufficient breast milk supply. Other signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, lethargy, yellowing of the eyes and skin, tearless crying and sunken eyes. Dehydration can get serious, so, if you notice any of these symptoms, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Your baby’s feeding behaviour
When your baby is breastfeeding, his cheeks should look full. If your baby’s cheeks look sucked in, it could mean that your baby isn’t getting enough milk. You should also be able to hear your baby make swallowing and gulping sounds to indicate that he is actively swallowing the milk. That said, you should know that some babies tend to eat silently. Immediately after the feed, your baby should be calm and move away from your breast on his own. It’s very common for babies to nod off after a full feed so if your baby is fussy or irritable, it could be a sign that your baby isn’t getting enough milk.
Breasts that feel soft
If your breasts are producing enough milk, they should feel full and heavy when you wake up every morning. An occasional leak is considered normal. If your breasts don’t feel as heavy, you may not be producing enough breastmilk. Your breasts may also feel softer after a nursing session.
What to do if you have insufficient breast milk supply?
If you think your baby is not getting enough breastmilk, you should consult a breastfeeding specialist of a lactation consultant. They will be able to assess your breastmilk production and whether or not your baby is being able to breastfeed properly. They may advise you on ways to improve your breastfeeding technique. They will also be able to advise you on how to increase your breast milk supply.
If you still cannot develop a steady breast milk supply, you may want to look at donor breast milk as a supplement to your breastmilk. Donor breast milk is the second-best form of nutrition to your own breastmilk and is the safest choice for your baby.