Do I have enough milk?

All mothers want what is best for their child

This dogma has become even more prevalent in recent years with the increase in information surrounding perinatal care. And yet, the vast majority of women doubt their ability to provide breast milk that is nutritionally adequate and above all, available in sufficient quantity.

From what I have observed, this is true regardless of age or ethnicity. I have heard women from Quebec and from many African and Asian countries, French or English speaking, doubt their ability to breastfeed their child.


The fourth trimester

The period following pregnancy is often referred to as the 4th trimester and I love this expression. The baby spends about 40 weeks in a warm environment, with the ambient noise of mom's blood circulation and digestion, and in nearly constant movement. Baby is also fed 24 hours a day thanks to the umbilical cord which ensures a continuous supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients essential to his growth. Once out of this cozy environment, baby hopes for the same conditions!

Indeed, the adventure of parenthood takes on its full meaning once the little one is born. He is vulnerable and needs warmth and comfort at all times... day and night! This is why it is perfectly normal (and desirable!) to breastfeed on demand. Baby's stomach is very small at birth, it grows quickly, but still remains quite small. Feeding is frequent, and this is normal as well. If your baby wants to drink, you should respond quickly to the request. There is nothing more stressful than putting to the breast a baby in crisis!


How do you know if baby is getting enough milk?

You can hear baby swallowing: check out this video of a baby who is drinking very well during a good feeding. You can clearly see a wide-open mouth, a pause in feeding and a downward movement of the chin.

What goes in must come out! If baby has several yellow stools and wets several diapers a day, this is a good sign.

Here are some signs that do NOT indicate you have insufficient milk:

  • Your breasts are no longer full or filled: in fact, this is normal as the engorgement of the first few weeks will subside, and your breasts will be more comfortable. The body adjusts naturally and that's good!
  • Baby doesn't sleep through the night or takes short naps: a baby's normal night's sleep is not 8 consecutive hours... I'm sorry!
  • Baby cries after feeding: is this really a sign of hunger? There could be many other reasons, especially if you heard your baby sucking and drinking at the breast.
  • Baby drinks often or for a long time: look at your baby, not the clock! If baby is sleeping at the breast, do compressions during feeding (watch this video of a 2-day old baby).
  • You're only expressing ½ ounce (15 ml) of milk: unless you have a plan to stimulate your milk supply, leave the pump on the side and simply breastfeed your baby!
  • Baby takes a bottle after feeding: not only can this lead to breast/teat confusion, but often a baby will drink milk from a bottle even without being hungry.

In short, stop looking at the numbers and look at your baby!

Can you hear your baby drinking? Is it soiling its diaper? Is it calm after feeding? Keep going, you're doing a great job!

By Émilie Masson, Dt.P. 

Date of publication : January 10, 2019 - Republication : January 10, 2020


The blog of Dr.Newman, pediatrist : Is my Baby Getting Enough Milk ?