One of the greatest concerns for breastfeeding parents is whether their baby is getting enough milk for her needs. The best guide you can use is your baby's behaviour and appearance.
Many first time parents get very worried when their baby loses weight in the first couple of weeks after the delivery. This is perfectly normal and, unless your baby's weight loss is severe or your baby looks unwell, you should not be too concerned. After birth your child should be weighed every week and you can discuss any concerns your might have with the health visitor or paediatrician. Also, expect any gains in weight to be irregular. One week your baby might put on a lot of weight and then the next there is hardly any gain in weight. This is perfectly normal in a breastfeeding baby.
A good way to judge whether enough is going in is to check what is coming out at the other end. Regular wet nappies are a good sign that your baby is getting enough. At least one diaper change per feed should be the norm. Also, check the quality of the urine. It should not have a strong odour or colour. Bowel motions can vary enormously between babies. Some will have a have frequent bowel motions whilst some only have one once a week. Both are normal. Again, it's quality, not quantity that matters. The stools of a breastfed baby are usually mustard-yellow in colour. Surprisingly, for some parents, the stools of a breastfeed baby do not have an offensive odour, as the waste products of breast milk are very limited.
Some mothers and babies have problems in establishing good breastfeeding. It is important that all mothers, especially first time mothers, have their breastfeeding technique assessed by a health professional. Getting breastfeeding right from the first day or two after birth really does eliminate many future feeding problems. Many women have weaned their baby unnecessarily when they have encountered problems.
The general appearance of your baby is the most important indicator as to whether she is getting enough feed. Each day you'll notice how your baby becomes brighter and more inquisitive about the world around her. So, if her complexion is good and she seems content then she is almost certainly getting enough milk.
Sometimes babies can have lactose intolerance or requires supplements to her milk. If your baby shows any serious signs of not feeding properly you should seek medical advice. It may not be necessary to stop breastfeeding altogether and you may be able to give your baby both breast milk as well as specialized milk formula. If possible, avoid offering a bottle to your baby during the first six weeks; this give mother a chance to establish good milk suppler you and gives the baby its mother antibodies and other nutrients, which are vital to ward of infection during the early days of a baby's life.
If you do have to give your baby a complementary feed of formula, always offer it after breastfeeding. It is rarely necessary to give your baby more than 60 ml of formula, so try to offer formula only when your own supplies are low; usually the afternoon and evening feedings.
There is no secret to knowing whether your baby is getting enough breast milk. As a mother you will know your baby better than anybody else. By carefully monitoring your child physical and mental health you will intuitively know if your baby is getting enough breast milk.
Robin O'Brien is founder of a site where you can learn about the advantages of breastfeeding . You can also read about breastfeeding and alcohol and other articles every breastfeeding mother will find of interest.