Breastfeeding is a rewarding experience for both mum and baby. Sometimes you may have questions and it’s completely natural to seek reassurance. If you have queries about when and how often to feed your baby or, if they're getting enough breast milk, you may find some of the suggestions below useful. It is important to always speak to your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns.
How do I know if my milk supply is enough?¹
Although it is difficult to know how much milk your baby has taken when breastfeeding, you can observe his behavior to ensure that he is getting enough milk.
When your baby gets enough milk:
- He will appear contented and satisfied
- Your breasts will be softened after breastfeeding, though you may not have this feeling in the first two or three days
- You can check on your baby’s weight and excretion pattern:
- In the first two days after birth, your baby will have at least one to two diapers a day with colourless or pale yellow urine
- On the third and fourth day, the baby will have three heavier wet diapers per day
- From the fifth day onwards, your breastfed baby will have at least five to six heavy wet diapers every day (similar to about three table spoon of water in a diaper)
- On the first day after birth, your baby will pass out black or dark green meconium in his bowel movements
- His stool will gradually change from meconium to yellowish colour in the first 5 days
- In the first month, your baby will have bowel movements at least twice a day
- It is normal for your baby to lose a bit of weight in the first few days after birth. By the first 1 to 2 weeks, your baby should regain the birth weight and gain weight steadily. He will gain at least half a kilogram per month in the first 4 months
If you are concerned about the baby’s excretion pattern and weight gain, consult Maternal and Child Health Centres or other healthcare professionals for advice early.
How do I know when and how many times a day my baby needs to be fed?²
You may question, "How do I know if my baby is hungry?" Actually, yourbaby will show you cues when he is hungry e.g. he opens his mouth and moves around, put his fingers into his mouth make smacking sound or becomes irritated. Recognize these cues and feed your baby accordingly, he will then suckle better. Don’t wait till your baby cries to feed him, as it may affect his suckling or he may even refuse the feed!
Most newborn babies need frequent feeds of about 8-12 times a day in the first month. A healthy full-term baby is born with sufficient reserve in his body. After his first feed in the delivery room, the baby will be in a sleepy state and some babies will take a long rest and only wake up 1 - 2 times. So you may find your baby only suckle more actively for 3-4 feeds in the first day. Starting from the second day until the first month, baby’s appetite will increase and demand to be feed more frequently. You may also notice his feeding pattern and cues more easily. If your baby is still very sleepy on the second day and unwilling to suckle, you should consult the Maternal and Child Health Centres or other healthcare professionals immediately.
Every baby has his own pace on feeding. What you need to do is to feed your baby on demand and observe if he has normal number of wet diaper and bowel motion everyday and has satisfactory body weight gain. Once your baby suckles properly, his feeding pattern will gradually become more regular and the number of feeds will gradually decrease.
If you have further question, you may consult Maternal and Child Health Centres or other healthcare professionals for advice.
(1) Department of Health, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, “How do I know if my milk supply is enough?” Brochure, Aug 2014
(2) Department of Health, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, “How do I know when and how many times a day my baby needs to be fed?” Brochure, Aug 2014
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