Birthwise Blog

Is my baby getting enough milk?

Wouldn’t it be nice if your breasts had a measuring gauge so you knew in real-time how much milk they were making and how much milk baby was getting?

Worrying about milk supply and whether baby is getting enough milk is the number one reason women wean before meeting their breastfeeding goals.

In Canada, 91% of mothers initiate breastfeeding when their babies are born. At 6 months that number drops to 35% with concerns about milk supply being the biggest reported factor for stopping.

I understand this, I was one of those mothers. I loved my babies and when they would be fussy during or after feeding, I worried I wasn’t meeting their needs. I just wanted to be a good mom and feeding was integral to feeling like I was doing a good job.

It can be hard to interpret baby’s “hunger cues” from “I need to suck to regulate myself” and later “I have found my hands and they are delicious and fun” cues.

How to know if baby has had enough to eat? Especially if they are rooting, or feed from a bottle after breastfeeding. Doesn’t that mean they didn’t get enough? Not necessarily.

Understanding normal feeding behaviours and the signs for when they are and are not getting enough milk can go a long way to easing confusion and anxiety around breastfeeding. I know it would have made a difference in my personal breastfeeding journeys.

Normal infant feeding behaviours:

• Newborns may feed 8-15x/ 24 hours in first few weeks after they are born.
• Newborns may fall asleep often at the breast and then wake a few minutes later for more milk. It takes time to develop their strength and stamina.
• Some feeds may be short, lasting only a few minutes or long, up to about 30min (approximately 15 min on each breast).
• Newborns may pause and take breaks while feeding as they develop their sucking and swallowing skills.
• Newborn feeds may not be evenly spaced apart. They do not know what time it is. They may feed every 1-3 hours.
• Cluster feeding is a normal part of breastfeeding in the early days and weeks and serves the dual purpose of stimulating your breasts to build a robust milk supply and developing baby’s oral anatomy and feeding skills.
• During growth and cognitive spurts, baby may feed more often as their growing body and brain demands more calories and nutrients.
• From birth to about 3-4 months, infants have a powerful involuntary sucking reflex before it integrates, moves to the movement part of the brain and becomes volitional meaning they can decide what they want to suck on, when and how.
• Babies gradually become more efficient feeders and feeds become less frequent and take less time.
-Some babies continue to feed frequently even when they get older (although the time spent feeding gets shorter) as they have smaller stomach capacity
-Just like adults, sometimes babies want a snack and sometimes a full 3 courses with dessert. Watch babies cues for when they are satisfied, not the clock:)

How to know if baby is getting enough milk

• At least 6 wet diapers in 24 hrs, light yellow or clear urine
• At least 2 dirty diapers in 24 hrs (more for newborns)
• Consistent weight gain and overall growth each week (appropriate for baby’s age) * It is normal for babies to lose up to 10% of their birthweight in first 4 days of life
• Baby is mostly content and calm in between feeds

Signs baby is not getting enough milk

• Signs of dehydration- less than 6 wet diapers, dark- coloured urine, dry mouth, lethargic, weak, or high-pitched cry, sunken fontanelles
• Constipated or infrequent stools * this by itself may not be a sign baby is not getting enough milk
Less than 8 feeds/ 24 hrs or feeds are all short in duration, especially in first 6-weeks or baby is feeding constantly
• Baby is very sleepy most of the time or is constantly fussy and high-pitched frantic crying
Baby is not gaining weight or gaining slowly

If you are concerned your baby isn’t getting enough milk, book an appointment with a lactation consultant for a thorough lactation assessment.

If there is a problem, a plan of action that ensures baby is well fed, your milk supply is protected and that also supports your breastfeeding goals will be put into place.

Sometimes the reassurance and support from an experienced lactation consultant is all a concerned loving breastfeeding mother needs. I cannot tell you the joy it brings me when a Mom I am working with lights up with joy and relief when she realizes she actually is making enough milk for her baby. Or, when a Mom who was struggling with milk supply finally achieves her goals😊

28 things I would tell my younger (mother) self 

On this Mother’s Day, I took some time to reflect over all I’ve learned in 30+ years. My children are grown now and there is no question, their presence in my life has shaped the woman I am today. Below are 28 things I wish I had known at the beginning of my parenting journey. Perhaps something in my experience will resonate and help you on yours. Happy Mother’s Day!

1. You will grow into your own unique way of being a mother. You won’t have it all figured out at the beginning. Don’t worry, you will find your way.  

2. You will make mistakes. Be gentle with yourself. You are doing the best you can. Ask for forgiveness when you need to. Learn the lessons you need to and move on.  

3. Your best is good enough. Your best will change as you learn and grow.  

4. Your greatest gift to your children is them knowing you love them fiercely and without conditions.    

5. Your children will grow up faster than you imagine. Let them be babies and kids for as long as possible.

6. You will never regret time spent cuddling, gazing at, playing with, and comforting your babies.  

7. Your responsibilities will feel crushing at times. Focus your energy wisely.  

8. Two things can be true at the same time: you can adore your babies and need a break from caring for them sometimes.  

9. Don’t compare yourself to other moms and don’t compare your babies to other babies.  

10. You must do what is best for you and your family and allow others to do the same without judgement.

11. Expectations. It’s okay to have expectations of yourself, of your partner, of your baby. But make sure they are reasonable and let go of what is not.  

12. Being comfortable with “good enough” means you are living what is possible. Don’t create stress and unhappiness in your life with your pursuit of “perfect”.  

13. Some days you will be full of energy and others you will not. It’s ok to make things easy on the days that you are not. In fact, it’s crucial that you do. 

14. The image you had in your mind about being a mother and the reality of it are going to be very different. Let it go, live in the now and be happy.

15. Nobody cares whether your house is spotless. And if they do, don’t invite them over.  

16. As much as possible, experience moments from your child’s perspective.  

17. Celebrate the changes in your body from pregnancy and breastfeeding. Look in your eyes and smile every time you see yourself in a mirror. You are amazing.   

18. You are a mother, not a robot. You are going to feel joy, wonder, excitement, love and you are going to feel frustration, impatience, overwhelm and uncertainty. Stop feeling guilty for being a normal human.

19. Schedule time for yourself. A little bit every day and a lot at least once a year. This goes on the calendar and is non-negotiable. You are doing the hardest job in the world, vacations are necessary.   

20. Give yourself credit for all the “trying” that you do. Though things may not always work, your continuous effort is the stuff of motherhood.  

21. Sometimes what the situation needs is for you to do less, not more.  

22. You will never be able to be everything for everyone. This is a fantasy that only makes you feel bad. Drop it.  

23. You are going to long for simplicity in a messy and complicated world. What becomes part of your day and life are up to you. Be thoughtful about what you allow into your life. 

24. Surround yourself with helpful people who love your kids. Find your tribe and they will share the joy and work of raising your family. 

25. Every single day, take a few minutes to really look at your baby and marvel at what you made.

26. You are a good mother.  

27. Your children are going to love you. As a person who has lost my mother, this lesson has been profound and came too late.  

28. Your mom is giving you advice because she wants to connect with you over your shared motherhood roles. Not because she is trying to control you or criticize you or tell you what to do. Don’t dismiss or reject her. One day you will wish you she was here to talk with and hear what she had to say.