Breastfeeding Education

How to Tell That Breastfeeding is Going Well

You know that breastfeeding is going well when:

  • You can hear baby swallowing at the breast.
  • Baby is gaining weight, feels heavier, and fills out newborn clothes. Most babies regain their birthweight within 10 to 14 days of birth. From birth to 3 months, most babies gain between 675–900 grams (1½ to 2 pounds) per month. From 4 to 6 months most babies gain 450–560 grams (1 to 1 ¼ pounds) per month.
  • Baby is content after most feedings.
  • Your breasts feel softer after a feeding. They are never completely empty, because you continue to make milk while baby is feeding.
  • Baby begins to stay awake for longer periods.

You don’t need to measure what baby is taking in to know that she is getting enough milk. If you are concerned, you can keep track of what is coming out. This can reassure you that your baby is getting enough milk.

Age

Wet diapers per day*

Bowel movements per day

Days 1 to 2
(colostrum)

2 or more per day.

1 or more sticky, dark
green or almost black
(meconium).

Days 3 to 4
(milk coming in)

3 or more per day,
pale urine, diapers
feel heavier.

3 or more brown/
green/yellow
changing in colour.

Days 5 to 6
(milk in)

5 or more per day,
pale urine, heavy
wet diapers.

3 or more, becoming
more yellow in
colour. At least 3 are
the size of a dollar
coin (“loonie”).

Days 7 to 28

6 or more per day,
pale urine, heavy
wet diapers.

3 or more yellow in
colour.

After day 28

5 or more per day,
pale urine, heavy
wet diapers.

1 or more, soft and
large. Some babies
may sometimes go
several days without
a bowel movement.

* If you are unsure diapers are wet when changing baby, place a paper towel inside the clean diaper and check for wetness next change.

These numbers are guidelines only. Your baby can be perfectly healthy but have fewer bowel movements, for example. But you should always talk to a health care provider if your baby has a pattern different from this.

Get help right away if baby's bowel movements are not changing to yellow in colour by day three to five. If you have any concerns, contact your health care provider immediately.

If baby spits up

Babies may spit up small amounts of breast milk after feeding. It is usually not a cause for concern. Breastfed babies tend to spit up less than bottle-fed babies. Most babies outgrow spitting up within four to six months. Talk with your health care provider if you are concerned about the amount your baby spits up or if your baby is not gaining weight.

If baby's needs seem to change

You may find that you get a breastfeeding routine well established and then things change. Your baby wants to breastfeed more often. Baby is having a growth spurt, which is normal. You may notice this at 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months, but each baby is different. You will know that your baby is having a growth spurt if he or she wants to feed more often than usual.

During these growth spurts, you need to breastfeed as often as baby wants. But get some extra rest yourself. Your milk supply will rise to meet the greater demand in a day or two. You produce milk because the baby’s sucking causes your body to release the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is responsible for giving the signal to your breasts to make milk. Your prolactin levels are highest at night. Therefore, if you are trying to increase your milk supply, be sure to feed your baby often at night. Some women take their babies to bed with them. This allows them to get more sleep between feedings.