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Assessing Supply

Many women wonder whether or not they are making enough milk for their babies. Two things need to happen in order to know that the baby is getting enough milk: the baby needs to gain weight and the baby needs to be comfortable between feeds. Both things need to happen.

1. The baby needs to gain weight.

In the first 24-48 hours, a baby who loses greater than 10% of birth weight should receive supplementation (expressed milk or formula). Babies who lose between 7-10% need to be watched carefully, with daily weights to make sure that they are trending up.

In the early days/weeks, we would like a baby to gain between 1/2 to 1 ounce per day on average (preferably closer to 1 than 1/2) ounce). For instance, if your baby gained 7 ounces in the past 7 days measured on the same scale, that is an average gain of 1 ounce per day and that is acceptable. If the baby is passing 5 or more stools per day, that is usually a sign of sufficient milk intake. Still, in the first few weeks, get the baby weighed to verify that the weight gain is sufficient.

2. The baby needs to be satisfied.

The baby should be relaxed and sleep well after feedings.

If the baby is constantly feeding on the breast and is not sleeping well, it is possible that the baby is hungry. If the baby has dry lips or the urine has a pink /orange tinge or is crystallized, offer a 2 ounce bottle of formula or expressed milk and call the pediatrician immediately. If the lips and urine appear normal, still call your pediatrician to discuss why the baby is not comfortable after feeds. See Low Milk Production article.

If the baby is gaining weight well, but seems to want to suck constantly after feeds, try soothing him/her with the breast, your finger or possibly a pacifier (round shape, not flattened).