New mothers often worry about the feeding of their newborns. They are often unsure if their babies are getting enough breast milk.
The body digests breast milk faster than baby formula; as a result babies who are breastfed get hungry at shorter intervals when compared with their formula fed counterparts. This does not mean breast milk is not enough for them neither does it indicate that they need formula top up.
So, how can I be sure that my baby is getting enough breast milk?
- Weight gain: One of the reasons that your baby’s weight is measured during well baby assessments or each time you visit the clinic is to ensure that your baby is gaining weight at the appropriate rate. This is the easiest way to ascertain that your baby is getting enough calories.
- Bowel movements: If your baby has frequent bowel movements and 6 to 8 wet diapers in 24 hours, it suggests that he/she is getting enough food and fluid.
- Babies cry when they hungry and when they suckle, they should be allowed to continue until they stop themselves. If they suckle on the breast and stop at will that communicates that they are satisfied. They will usually recommence when they are ready. So the baby determines his/her feeding time and not the clock.
- Your breasts should feel softer and lighter after feeding your baby also you should be able to see and/or hear your baby swallowing while feeding.
Here are some breastfeeding behaviors that ensure your baby gets adequate nutrition:
PROPER POSITIONING: Bring the baby to the breast and not the other way around. You can support the baby’s weight with your arm or a pillow. Also it is important that the baby’s mouth latches properly to the areola (the dark skin around the nipple) and not the nipple alone.
EMPTYING THE BREAST: Your baby determines the length of a breastfeeding session and not yourself. Cutting short your baby’s breastfeeding time many times deprive them of the hind milk (which comes out later in a breastfeeding session) which is richer in fat and more filling than fore milk which is more watery.
ADEQUATE MATERNAL NUTRITION: A balanced diet is recommendation with a daily water intake of greater than 3.5 liters for breastfeeding women. Caffeine, Cigarettes, Un-prescribed drugs and Alcohol should be avoided by breastfeeding mothers. Many of these substances can pass through breast milk into your baby and cause problems.
Lastly it is important to note that continuous breastfeeding promotes breast milk formation. However, if despite putting your baby to breast, you feel that the quantity of breast milk that you produce is not sufficient or if you have complaints about your baby’s growth. Visit your doctor.
Brenda Chinwe Orie is a Nigerian Registered Nurse and Midwife.
She holds a degree in Nursing Sciences which she obtained from the Prestigious Abia State University with flying colors in 2013.
She uses her storytelling and creativity skills on her #NurseB community on Facebook where she teaches health behaviors using relatable Bedside experiences.
She had championed health courses such as #TheNurseBhealthybaby contest (An annual online contest for babies), #NurseBHomecarekit (A mini first aid kit for homes); the latest in her stables, #TheNurseBpregnancyjournal (A memoir for documentation on pregnancy).
She lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.