Breastfeeding: Is your newborn getting enough milk?

My wife just gave birth and started nursing about one hour later. We got the impression, that our baby was not getting enough milk and this was verified with a breastpump several hours later. We could get only some drops of colostrum. We were advised to supplement with formula until her milk supply increased. We supplemented as little as possible and only after trying to breastfeed when our baby was willing. Now after one week the baby seems to be getting enough. Did we make a mistake that will hurt our baby?


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

During the first several days following birth, your baby receives small but potent quantities of your colostrum, which is full of nutrients and antibodies. Colostrum is the perfect food for your baby's first days of life. It has a laxative effect, which rapidly clears the dark, tarry meconium stools. Feeding your newborn early and often may help to lessen the severity of normal newborn (physiologic) jaundice by speeding the elimination of thesestools, thus preventing the reabsorption of bilirubin.

Expressing only drops of colostrum in the 24 hours following your baby's birth is normal. A feed at this time can average about two teaspoons. Receiving only this small amount encourages your baby to nurse more often. This helps toestablish your milk supply and encourages his frequent stooling. The milk you produce increases gradually over the first 36 hours following birth andthen dramatically increases over the next two to five days.

The amount of milk you express (pump) is not an accurate measure of the quantity of breastmilk your baby takes in. Your nursing baby is much moreeffective at accessing your milk than any pump is.

During infancy, allergy to cow's milk is the most common nutritional allergy. Allergy occurrence is less common among exclusively breastfed babies. To prevent the infant's exposure to these allergens, the introduction of food other than breastmilk is best avoided during this period of time. Whether or not your baby will develop allergies as a result of the formula given is impossible for me to determine. If you have a family history of allergies, the early introduction of cow's milk has a strong correlation to subsequent problems.

In the days following a baby's birth, parents are particularly vulnerable to the suggestions made. When your health care providers were concerned that you were not making enough milk, you did what you thought was best, and supplemented your baby. You made the best decision you could with the information you had at that time.

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter!

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