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On Call: Hungry Baby

Q. Is my newborn getting enough milk? She constantly wants to nurse.

 


A. She's most likely getting plenty. It's perfectly normal for a breastfed baby to want to eat at least every couple of hours.

Because breast milk is more easily digested than formula, it passes through a baby more quickly  -- so she gets hungry again faster. Besides that, infants simply love to be snuggled at their mother's chest. To reassure yourself that your infant's getting the nutrition she needs, ask yourself:

  • Do your breasts feel full?
  • Can you hear her swallowing and see milk in her mouth when she comes off the breast?
  • Is she wetting at least six diapers over a 24-hour period?
  • Is she pooping (anywhere from once a day to after every feeding)?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you should have enough milk. But the best proof is whether your baby is gaining weight. If she isn't, or you answered no to any of the questions above, the pediatrician or a lactation consultant can help you decide whether you should supplement her diet with formula or find ways to increase your milk supply.

Because of the supply-and-demand relationship of milk production, having your baby at your breast as often as possible is actually the best way to make sure that there's plenty of milk. It's exhausting, though. Once, when my now 7-year-old daughter, Elsa, was a newborn, our doctor asked me how often I was breastfeeding. I laughed and said it was probably easier to figure out how often I wasn't nursing!

But before you know it, your baby will be interested in other food, and you'll miss always having her so close.

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