Is Your Baby Getting Enough Milk?

During effective, nutritive sucking, your baby uses the structures of her mouth to compress the milk sinuses beneath your breast and move milk into the back of her throat to swallow. At first, your baby may seem to suck in rapid bursts to trigger milk let-down. Once let-down occurs, your baby should suck at the rate of about one suck a second, pausing only to take a breath with every few sucks. Here are a few other cues your baby is breastfeeding successfully:

Listen for swallowing. You should hear a “huh-ah” or soft “k” sound deep in the baby’s throat as she sucks. Some babies swallow softly and others gulp loudly. You should not hear a clicking or smacking sound.

Watch your baby’s jaw. You should see rhythmic movement in the muscle that runs from the lower jaw to the ear when she is sucking deeply. You should also notice rhythmic movement that begins at the edge of the baby’s chin and travels down her throat as baby sucks and swallows. You should not see deep dimpling of her cheeks.

Address Any Concerns

Your baby should continue to suck for about 10 to 30 minutes before she lets go on the first breast. If your baby frequently falls asleep at the breast within a few minutes of latch-on or your baby frequently breastfeeds for 35 minutes on the first breast without letting go, discuss this with your baby’s doctor or an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).

Gauging Your Baby’s Success

After the first week, your baby will become more proficient at breastfeeding. Expect to feed your baby about 8 to 12 times in 24 hours and for approximately 10 to 30 minutes at the first breast before she lets go of the breast without your help. Your baby should continue to:

• Soak six or more wet diapers.

• Pass three or more loose, seedy, yellow stools.

• Gain more than half an ounce (15 g) a day, more than 4 to 5 ounces (120 to 150 g) a week, or 1 pound (454 g) a month (from lowest weight), regaining birthweight by two weeks.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jovino, Louise DO

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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