How Does Milk Production Work in the Early Days Postpartum?

Finally, you can tell if a baby is getting enough by making sure he's not dehydrated. His eyes and mouth should be moist, skin should be smooth and not have dry patches, and the fontanel (the soft spot on top of the head) should not be sunken. He should not be lethargic or floppy, should have periods where he's awake and alert, and should wake on his own to eat. If you see orange urine crystals in his diaper or he has fewer than six pees in 24 hours after day 5 of life, call your pediatrician immediately. Dehydration in a baby can be very serious but is also very treatable.

If you have any reason to be concerned about your baby, don't hesitate to call your pediatrician. Trust your gut. If your baby is not himself, it doesn't hurt to have him looked at. Often the nurse can listen to your concerns on the phone and help you determine if the doctor needs to see the baby.

Remember that a newborn typically eats 12 or more times in a 24-hour period, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's eating exactly every two hours. He might eat three times in three hours, then sleep for three hours, then eat twice more in the next four hours, then sleep for two hours, etc. Watch the baby, not the clock, for when you should feed him next, and follow his cues.

The best way to ensure that your milk supply is healthy and your baby is well-fed is to simply nurse, nurse, nurse. Avoid artificial nipples such as pacifiers and bottles until at least three to four weeks of age, when breastfeeding should be well established. Have your baby's latch evaluated if you have any pain while nursing. Sometimes it may look like your baby is nursing well but he's actually not transferring milk efficiently. Listen for the sounds of swallowing and for a suck-swallow-breathe pattern. If your baby is sucking but not pausing to swallow or breathe, he may not actually be getting any milk, or not enough to trigger the swallow reflex.

Check out my videos on newborn nursing to see what it looks like (and sounds like!) when a tiny baby nurses! 

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