Parents typically worry whether the amount of breast milk will be enough for the baby. Baby may want to nurse often, and you feel uncertain if baby is getting enough milk. Not knowing exactly how much your baby is eating creates a sense of unease. You may even feel like you want a pair of transparent breasts with clearly marked measurements. But nature did not design us that way.
Signs that breastfeeding is going fine
Signs that breastfeeding is going fine and that your baby is eating enough are that your baby:
- Has a large portion of the breast in his or her mouth when sucking
- Sucks actively and strongly with a normal suck pattern that includes small breaks in between
- Lies with his or her chin touching the breast and the nose unobstructed
- Works the jaw and swallows
- Lies close to you
- Is content and active after feeding (but may want to eat soon again)
- Urinates at least eight times per day and has stools
- You feel positive while nursing and after, and your nipple looks the same as before.
What you can do for you
How you care for yourself also has an impact on the amount of breast milk that your body produces. Consider the following:
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin with baby’s nose unobstructed and always nurse on baby’s signals, which is often in the beginning. Doing so signals to/informs your body that it needs to produce more milk and promotes breastfeeding. The more you nurse, the more milk you produce. Supply and demand. Offer two to four breasts per session. Switch back to the previous breast.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Fill the fridge with freshly squeezed juice and smoothies so that you can drink nutritious beverages when you produce milk. Always have something to drink next to you when you nurse.
- Rest a lot. You need to crawl into bed, pull the curtains and turn off your phone even during the day. Take the chance when your baby sleeps. This makes a big difference in how you cope with breastfeeding in the evening/night and your milk supply later. You’re probably sleep deprived from the end of your pregnancy, labor and the days following.
- Try breast compressions–squeezing the breast gently and carefully while your baby sucks.
- Get support from the maternity ward, child health center, or breastfeeding clinic if the above doesn’t work.
Support from your healthcare provider
Your healthcare provider will look at your breastfeeding status and your baby’s behavior at the breast. If none of the above helps, then you can try a supplemental nursing set. This involves hanging a bottle around the mother’s neck that contains pumped breast milk or baby formula, and a thin tube attached at the nipple. When the baby sucks the breast and the tube, the baby gets breast milk from the breast and breast milk/formula from the bottle. Baby will get enough milk and be satisfied, while the breast will be stimulated to produce more breast milk for later. Usually, milk supply will increase and supplemental nursing can be reduced gradually.
The supplemental nursing set is available in pharmacies (complete with instructions) if you want to try it yourself.
*Tips! *If you feel that the tubes are in the way, that it feels complicated and you’re getting frustrated, put the supplemental nursing set aside. Do what you usually do and then try the set next time you nurse.
Note! If baby’s skin is yellow (newborn jaundice), and if baby is sleepy and quickly falls asleep at the breast, call the maternity ward.