What your breastfed baby is saying

Published 11:29 am Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Nearly every breastfeeding mom has questioned her body’s ability to nourish her baby at some point during their breastfeeding journey.

It’s normal to feel uncertain. After all, every mom worries about their baby. Unfortunately, it’s far too common for that uncertainty to sabotage a mother’s breastfeeding success. Learning how babies communicate and what they’re trying to tell us can help moms feel confident while breastfeeding their babies, which will extend the duration of breastfeeding.

One of the most common concerns for moms is if their baby is getting enough milk. When babies are drinking from the breast, you can’t measure their intake which can be worrisome. Many moms feel that they should pump their milk and feed with a bottle instead, but this isn’t a good solution.

The best way to tell if a baby is getting enough breast milk is by watching the amount of wet and dirty diapers they have in a 24-hour period. Babies should have six or more wet diapers and two to three dirty diapers every 24 hours, after the fifth day of life.

In the first days after birth, baby should have one wet and one dirty diaper per day of life. If the baby is having plenty of wet and dirty diapers, the baby is getting plenty of milk.

A lot of times, baby will have plenty of wet and dirty diapers but the mother still has doubts because baby cries too often or is fussy soon after they eat. It’s important to remember that babies can cry for an abundance of reasons: overstimulation, sleepy, pain, etc. Learning the signs for hunger will make it easier for mothers to understand when baby is hungry or when there is something else bothering them.

If a baby is hungry, they will begin giving you cues by stirring, opening their mouth and turning their head back and forth (rooting). As baby gets hungrier, their movement will increase, they’ll begin to stretch and put their hands in their mouth. If the baby still isn’t being fed, the baby will then continue to move, while beginning to cry and their face will turn red. These are late hunger cues, and babies should be fed prior to this.

When a baby gets so hungry they begin to cry, it may be harder to get baby to latch onto the breast. If this happens, calm the baby by rocking them, doing skin-to-skin or talking to them, and then try to latch them onto the breast.

Babies are sometimes fussy shortly after eating, and this can worry the mother because she thinks her baby isn’t getting enough milk from the breast. Although there could be many reasons why the baby is fussy, if baby appears hungry shortly after a feeding, they may be going through a growth spurt.

Growth spurts happen often in young infants and during these times babies cluster feed. Cluster feeding means that they nurse more often, or for longer periods of time, or both. This is normal and every baby goes through them. During these times, it’s important that the mother allows her baby to nurse on demand. Allowing the baby to nurse on demand will ensure that their body continues the milk production that’s needed to meet the baby’s needs.

As mothers learn how to understand what their babies are telling them, they become more confident, and are reassured that breastfeeding is going well. This allows moms to breastfeed longer, which is great for both the mother and the baby, with benefits that last a lifetime.

If you’re breastfeeding and have concerns, seek assistance from your baby’s pediatrician. The Clark County Health Department also offers the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program through WIC. For more information, call 744-4482.

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including Cooper Clayton, WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations and home health care. For more information, call 744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org.