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Breastfeeding 101: How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough

August 16, 2017

While you’ve likely heard about the numerous benefits that breastfeeding can provide for mother and baby—like protecting your baby’s digestive system and lowering your risk of developing ovarian and breast cancers—it isn’t always quite that simple. 

For instance, one of the many questions you may find yourself asking is: how can I tell if my baby is getting enough to eat? Well, it may be easier than you think with key tips from GMC’s certified lactation consultants.

If your baby…

  • Feeds 8 or more times during a 24-hour period
  • Latches comfortably and breasts feel softer after feeding
  • Has 6 to 8 wet diapers during a 24-hour period (by day 4)
  • Has 3 to 4 mustard colored, seedy stools every day by the 4th day. Your baby’s stool should look larger than a spoonful and change from brown and sticky to yellow and loose
  • Steadily sucks and swallows while feeding
  • Appears satisfied after feeding

…Then they are getting enough to eat.

It's important to note that after initial weight loss right after birth, your baby should be back to their birth weight by 10 to 14 days of age. It's also important to have a pediatrician visit with the first 24 to 48 hours after discharge.  

How do you know when to breastfeed your baby?

The truth is, every baby is different. Most babies eat when hungry and stop when full. But it’s important to allow your baby to tell you this by using baby-led feeding.

This means feeding whenever your baby shows signs of wanting to eat, also known as feeding cues. It also means that you stop feeding when your baby shows signs of feeling full, or fullness cues. Using this technique encourages your baby to grow healthy and strong, while also helping you to establish a good milk supply.

Feeding cues to watch for:

  • Moves eyes under closed eyelids
  • Sucks on hands or tongue
  • Sticks out tongue
  • Opens mouth wide and turns head
  • Nuzzles breast
  • Acts more alert
  • Cries (this is a late sign of hunger)

Fullness cues to watch for:

  • Eats more slowly
  • Looks relaxed
  • Stops sucking
  • Closes lips or turns away from the breast
  • Falls asleep

Getting back to breastfeeding basics.

Breastfeeding, while a health-filled option for both mother and baby, isn’t always easy. In fact, between common breastfeeding conditions, time constraints and many other difficulties, it can feel downright overwhelming.

That’s why, as a baby-friendly facility, the Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion offers an extensive array of support services, including: a dedicated team of board-certified lactation consultants, breastfeeding classes and support groups and a Lactation Help Line, all to help provide a positive breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.

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