Who’s New to the Northwest Family?
“Sam’s Breastfeeding Journey”
Kathleen Eischens Photography
Northwest Family patient, Samantha, and her husband welcomed their first child, a beautiful daughter, last year. Dr. Purifoy had the honor on caring for Samantha through her pregnancy and delivery and now continues to see her little girl. Here is Sam’s inspiring story.
I was prepared for the exhaustion and demand that comes with having a newborn, but I did not realize the same would be true of breastfeeding. Though breastfeeding is natural, intimate, and rewarding, it should also be known that it can be initially very painful, potentially isolating, extremely time-consuming, and just overall exhausting!
I was passionate about my intent to exclusively breastfeed, but upon my newborn’s birth that plan was challenged almost immediately. Though I painfully practiced nursing and pumping in the hospital to generate my supply, my milk still took a few days to come in. To address significant weight loss in the interim, my newborn took donated milk through a syringe and nipple shield at my breast.
Once my supply finally came in, it sustained for several weeks at home, but eventually my daughter began to consistently cry when her feedings ended. We were both beginning to sleep for longer stretches of time, and I was persistent about pumping regularly throughout the day (and night), even when returning to work. But regardless of how long I pumped or nursed her, it seemed my supply was limited, and she was still hungry. I was reluctant to increase her bottles to more than I was pumping, but a routine weigh-in made it clear that my growing girl needed more. As we weened, we both found relief in formula and bittersweet closure in our breastfeeding journey.
Breast is healthy and affordable and oh so special, but fed is certainly best!
You have welcomed your new bundle of joy home and have decided to breastfeed. While this decision comes with many questions, one we often hear is how do I know if my baby is getting enough breast milk? Especially for new moms, a lot of focus and energy can be put toward this.
Breastfeeding is unlike bottle-feeding, where you can visibly see how much Baby has eaten. With breastfeeding, that is not an option. Your physicians are here to help. Let us explain some signs you can look for to ensure your baby is getting enough breastmilk and signals when it is time to consult your doctor.
How do I Know if My Baby is Getting Enough Breast Milk? The Signs to Watch For:
Your baby should feed with a few quick sucks (to get the milk flowing) followed by long, rhythmic sucks and swallows with occasional pauses.
The frequency of feedings varies by age. Cluster feeding, when your baby wants lots of short feeds over a few hours, often happens in the early days of breastfeeding. After a couple of weeks, feeding schedules get more regular. Usually, newborns feed every 2-3 hours, roughly 8-12 times per day. Older infants can often go 3-4 hours between feedings and feed 6-8 times daily.
You should be able to see (and often hear) your baby swallow after sucking. It can sometimes sound like a clicking sound.
When sucking, your baby’s cheeks should look round and plump. If their cheeks look sunken in, this is an indicator they are not getting milk when sucking.
When nursing, your baby should look and feel content. You should feel them relax and enjoy their meal. Most often, after they are done eating, they should also be content. A sign that they are full and happy. Additionally, you may also feel content and relaxed after your baby feeds.
The Stop When They Are full
Baby will stop sucking when they are done. You should not have to remove them or decide when enough is enough. Baby will handle that and knows just what to do.
Nipples and Breast
After feedings, your nipples should look more or less the same as before. They should not appear flattened, pinched, or white. Your breasts may also feel and look less full.
Your baby should steadily be gaining weight. While it is normal for some babies to lose weight in their first two weeks, generally, Baby should be gaining weight regularly. They should regain their birth weight within 14 days of life. Regular well child checks closely monitor Baby’s growth and development.
Healthy and Alert
Baby should appear healthy and alert. This includes crying a normal amount, a total of about 2 hours each day. If your baby is not crying or if they are crying far more often, it is time to talk to your doctor.
If Baby is pooping and peeing regularly, they are generally eating enough. You can learn more about how often newborns should be changed in our article, “Caring for a Newborn”.
Signs Your Baby is not Getting Enough Breast Milk
Sleeping More Than Normal
Baby starts seeming sluggish and sleeping for an abnormal length of time. You need to consult your doctor immediately.
Length of Feeding Time
If your baby is not getting enough milk, they may quickly give up, resulting in very short feedings. Alternatively, if Baby is not getting enough milk, they may feed much longer.
Not Pooping or Peeing
You may notice infrequency in diaper changes needed or intense colored urine.
Not Gaining Weight
As mentioned above, babies should regularly gain weight; if they are not, this can be a sign that they are not getting enough to eat.
Talk to Your Doctor
When in doubt, talk to your doctor. We know how precious children are, so you should always consult your physician if you have any questions, especially regarding your baby's health.