Two of the biggest questions in every mum’s mind are how much to feed their baby – and whether they are getting enough milk. Knowing how your baby’s tummy works could help you feel reassured about the process as you get breastfeeding established.
Concentrated colostrum for a tiny newborn tummy
The first kind of milk that a baby has is a very special kind of milk called colostrum, which is really concentrated breast milk. It’s full of things that help your baby fight infection. It’s very precious and your breasts only produce small amounts of this so it’s sometimes known as ‘liquid gold’.
A newborn baby’s stomach is very small. It gets filled up really quickly, so our bodies have evolved this super concentrated milk to nourish a baby with a tiny stomach. However, colostrum is very easy for your baby to digest and their stomach will empty very quickly. This is why newborn babies need lots of feeds in the first few days.
Frequent breastfeeds build your milk supply
Breast milk production works on a supply and demand system, and your baby controls and increases your milk supply by feeding at the breast. As your baby feeds, you produce hormones that send signals to your breasts to make milk.
Night-time feeding is particularly important for establishing your milk supply in the early days with your baby. A newborn baby should not be expected to sleep through the night, and it would not be desirable as it would reduce your milk supply before breastfeeding was properly established.
Is my baby getting enough milk?
When you are breastfeeding you cannot physically see how much milk is ‘going into’ your baby so lots of mums feel anxious that their baby isn’t getting enough.
If you are formula feeding you’ll see the milk going from the bottle so often it’s less of a worry.
Signs your baby is getting enough milk
One of the best indicators is to look at what’s in your baby’s nappies.
- In the first 48 hours, your baby is likely to have only two or three wet nappies.
- From day five onwards, wet nappies should start to become more frequent – and after the first three or four days your baby should be having about six wet nappies a day.
- By about four or five days your baby should produce yellow poo. After the first few days they should pass at least two of those yellow poos a day.
- Most breastfed babies actually produce lots of this sweet-smelling, runny yellow poo.
- Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, so breastfed babies may produce less poo than a formula fed baby as there is less ‘waste’ product.
- If you think your baby is not weeing and pooing properly then it’s really urgent that you get help and speak to your midwife or public health nurse.
- Your baby should appear healthy and alert
- Your baby should be gaining weight after the first two weeks (but don’t wait this long if you think your baby is not latching on well, swallowing and feeding well – speak to a breastfeeding supporter if you are concerned that your baby isn’t feeding well).
If any of these don’t apply, or you think your baby is unwell you should go to your GP immediately.