The majority of mothers elect to breastfeed their infants but a sharp decline occurs month over month so that by 12 months of age, less than a third of infants are still breastfeeding. A primary reason that mothers stop breastfeeding is a perception of inadequate milk production yet it's estimated that only 5% of mothers actually have such an inadequacy. Given the importance of proper milk intake for an infant's survival, its easy to understand why many breastfeeding moms share in this concern. If fed exclusively at the breast, it's difficult for moms to understand how much milk a baby is actually receiving - further adding to the complication of having confidence in their supply.
Before getting too concerned about your supply, consider the following ways to assess your baby's health as result of your milk supply.
1. Diaper counts:
Baby should have 3 stools per day after Day 1 and 6 wet per day by Day 4. This count will change over time. After 6 weeks, stool per day decreases, sometimes significantly.
2. Diaper colors:
Baby will start with super dark stools on Day 1 that should transition to yellow stools by Day 5. Similarly, urine should be pale yellow or clear by around Day 5. These are signs that your baby is receiving enough nutrition from your breastmilk.
3. Baby's weight:
Your baby should lose no more than 7% of their birthweight in days 1-4 but should resume gaining weight around day 5. Daily weight checks at the hospital or by your care provider during those first couple days and then again at your first pediatrician's appointment somewhere in days 3-5 are key. There are at-home infant scales you can use for extra peace of mind since your regular bathroom scale for adults is not sensitive enough to properly gauge weight changes in the first year. Check with your local hospital labor and delivery unit to see if they offer the use of their scale, a free alternative to an at-home scale.
Overall, your baby should be growing.
If they're growing at a consistent rate then they are very likely on the right path. If you're ever feeling unsure though, call your pediatrician or lactation consultant to have them help you.
1. CDC. (2016). Breastfeeding Rates Continue to Rise.
2. Gatti L. Maternal perceptions of insufficient milk supply in breastfeeding. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2008;40(4):355–363
3. Association of Women's Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. Kent J., Prime D., Garbin C. Principles for Maintaining or Increasing Breast Milk Production. 2012.
4. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Policy statement: Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 129(3), e827-841.
5. Breastfeeding USA. Mohrbacher N. Diaper Output and Milk Intake in the Early Weeks.