Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?

Posted on: April 25, 2022 | Babies, Body, education, Feeding, Health, Infant Feeding Specialist, Information

Much time, energy, worry, and focus happen in the first six weeks after birth. There are healthcare visits, well-checks, sleep adjustments, questions, worries, concerns, and more. Feeding a baby is one of the biggest wonders that many new parents have. HOW do I know if my baby is getting enough milk? WHAT amount should my baby be eating at this age? HOW often should I feed my baby? Even veteran parents have concerns surrounding feedings, as every baby is unique. Understanding the basics of infant feeding can help an anxious parent have a better gauge of what’s going well, what needs improvement, and when to reach out for higher levels of support. 

First 6 Weeks of Life

In the first 6 weeks of a newborn’s life, feeding fuels the thriving. The average intake of a newborn in the first six weeks gradually increases. From the moment of birth, colostrum is produced to nourish the baby at the breast. With formula, 60 milliliters is provided in the ready-to-feed bottles to begin the first suckles of the baby. In the first wee hours, a baby is often sleepy and recovering from the birthing experience. At birth, the baby’s tummy is roughly the size of a marble. Which allows the baby to comfortably house a volume of .5 ounces. At about 1 ½ weeks, the baby’s belly is roughly the size of a golf ball and able to hold a volume of 2oz comfortably. Some babies will eat 2.5-3oz in a feed-in those early weeks of 2-12 weeks, and others may be satisfied with 1.5-2.5 ounces in a feed in the 2-12 weeks. On average, 3oz-4oz of milk is a gradual general max for babies up to 12 weeks old.  

One thing to note is that growth spurts are also rampant throughout the first 6-weeks of a baby’s life. At 2-weeks, 4-weeks, 6-weeks, 8-weeks, and again at 12-weeks. There are physical and physiological, and mental milestones that occur during these stages. This manifests as a more alert baby, seemingly fussier, heartier appetite, and more frequent sleep/longer sleep spurts. 

Wet and Dirty Diapers, if Baby Is Getting Enough Milk

How many diapers to expect from a healthy well-nourished baby per day? As You are aware that what goes in, must come out…right? Therefore the amount, color, texture, and odor of waste are wonderful indicators of what’s going on inside the baby. Poop can come in a rainbow of colors and consistencies. Urine can be clear and dark yellows. All of the output can help decipher what’s going on with the baby. Wet diapers can be as frequent as 4-6 times a day, no matter the feeding method. 

From birth to 3 weeks, stools should occur at a minimum once a day. Stools are marked by anything a quarter-size and larger. By age 3-6 weeks, formula-fed babies should have roughly 1 bowel movement a day. Breast-fed babies at 3-6 weeks, can have a stint of one bowel movement in a 5-7 day period and be 100% normal. This is because the body absorbs the nutrients of the breastmilk and it contains very minimal items to dispose of. Once the “recycle” is full, it dumps and resets.  Because babies are solely ingesting liquids, stools should be expected to be soft, liquid, mustard-like, seedy, or smooth. Hard formed stools are a concern of constipation. 

Red Flags with Feeding

There are red flags with feeding that should be brought up to a healthcare provider immediately. It’s not uncommon for a baby to lose up to 10% of their birth weight within the first few days after birth. What providers look for is that baby is back at birth weight by their 2-week milestone. Weight loss in the baby is one red flag that should be closely monitored. Jaundice is a yellowing condition of the eyes and skin caused by a failure of the liver to break down bilirubin. Jaundice also showcases a lethargic cry, excessive sleeping, and gaunt stares. Bilirubin is flushed out by feedings and in turn waste removal from the body. 

Spit-up and reflux are other symptoms that may become a red flag in the baby. Spit-up is common and expected in a baby.  As spit up becomes more prominent, persistent, and painful for the baby to manage, think about a discussion with the baby’s provider. It could be that the formula baby is taking or foods you are eating when breastfeeding could be impacting the baby. A normal amount of spit-up is roughly up to the size of a half-dollar. Projectile spit up, spit up accompanied by crying, and spit up with a smell are some of the usual red signs of reflux/GERD. Babies don’t need water. Breastmilk has all the nutrients that water alone does not provide, and baby formula is comprised of water in the making of the bottles. Being cognizant of this fact is helpful when growth spurts, illnesses, teething, etc show up. 

Crying is NOT a hunger cue…

Crying and fussiness is associated with hunger and feedings. However, they don’t mean what we think they mean. When we hear a crying baby, we (society) automatically believe that the baby is hungry. While this can be true in theory in many circumstances, the reality is that crying is a distress sign. That is, the other signs of the baby’s hunger cues were missed or undetected. A crying baby is filling its lungs with oxygen (or lack of) and is unable to feed efficiently. Calming the baby down with snuggles, and allowing the energy to shift positively will make for a peaceful feeding all around. 

Support to Ensure Baby is Getting Enough Milk

The belly is an organ, and this organ can expand. Overfeeding is just as much of a concern as underfeeding. Knowing your baby’s eating and feeding habits well is a good tool of knowledge. Enlisting the experience, expertise, and support of an infant feeding specialist prenatally or at the very least in the first 2-4 weeks, postpartum will help establish a strong feeding regime and build confidence through the feeding journey. Vegas Family Doulas has the tools and resources to support YOU in navigating when to know that baby is getting enough milk.