When you first start breastfeeding, you may wonder if your baby is getting enough milk.
Don’t worry if your baby seems like they want to feed all the time. It can be exhausting for you, but it’s completely normal. Your baby is trying to get as much milk as possible by stimulating your supply.
Each time your baby feeds they are letting your body know how much milk to produce. Feed your baby often to keep milk flowing; every two hours or sooner, including at night in the first days.
Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby and is digested quickly. In the first few days your baby will take very little breast milk as their tummy is so small. Around days three to four, your breasts will fill with more milk, in response to your baby's feeding patterns and growing tummy.
Keep your baby close to you so that you start to recognise the signals they make to tell you they’re hungry. Responding to your baby's cues will help them stay calm and make them feel safe and loved.
What if my baby is sleepy?
Your baby might be sleepy in their first few weeks and may not show hunger cues every time they need to feed. Offer a feed every time your baby shows one of the cues and at least every two to three hours during the day. Overnight your baby should feed at least every four to five hours in first few weeks. Many babies will feed and wake more often than this, which is also normal if very tiring for you. If at four weeks your baby is gaining weight well and producing wet and dirty nappies as expected, it’s ok for your baby to sleep for longer. Lots of babies won’t sleep longer at night and that’s normal too.
If your baby is going longer than two to three hours between feeds during the day and four to five hours overnight, it can be a good idea to try to wake them. A nappy change and picking up your baby can encourage them to wake. A dummy can make your baby sleep longer than they should, which could affect how often they feed and how much milk they are taking.
There are some reassuring signs you can look out for to show you everything is ok. If there is anything not quite right or you are worried at all, reach out for support.
The contents of your baby’s nappy are a great indicator that all is going well. If your baby is pooing and weeing, these are great signs they are getting all the milk they need. It’s normal for breastfed babies to pass loose stools.
Baby’s poo starts out black at birth (this is called meconium) but will change to a yellow or mustard colour by day four/five.
- First 48 hours: one to two wet nappies and at least one meconium per day.
- Day three to four: three or more wet nappies, two or more stools changing to a lighter, runnier, brown or greenish colour per day.
- From day four and for first few weeks: baby will pass two yellow stools every day. These should be at least the size of a £2 coin.
- From day seven: six or more wet nappies per day.
Breastfeeding is a skill you and your baby learn together and the first few weeks can be hard. Don’t worry about asking questions or feeling unsure; there’s plenty of support for you through your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding supporters. Use the checklist below as a guide to how you and your baby are getting on with feeding. If you don't tick all the boxes, reach out for support.
- It doesn't hurt. Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable for the first few days as your body adjusts, but it shouldn’t hurt and your nipples shouldn’t be damaged or sore.
- Baby has eight feeds or more in 24 hours after the first day.
- Baby feeds between five and 40 minutes at each feed.
- Baby has normal skin colour.
- Baby is generally calm and relaxed when feeding and is content after most feeds.
- Baby has regular wet and dirty nappies.
- It’s normal for your baby to lose up to seven per cent of their birth weight after birth. Baby has regained their birthweight by around two weeks.
- You can hear you baby swallowing during the feed from the time they are around three to four-days-old.
- Feeding your baby responsively
- Breastfeeding after a c-section
- If your baby arrives early or unwell
- How do I get my baby attached and feeding effectively?
- How can I tell if it's going well
- Bottle feeding and other ways to feed your baby
- What can partners or others do to help (instead of giving a bottle)
- Why am I finding it painful?