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How do I know that breastfeeding is going well?

Updated: May 14

"How do I know that breastfeeding is going well?"

It's a question I hear often. The breastfeeding journey is not always as straightforward as it may seem. Many parents find themselves grappling with uncertainty, wondering if breastfeeding is going well for their baby.

Why do parents struggle to gauge breastfeeding success? In this post, I'll explore some reasons why it can be so challenging. Afterward, I'll share a PDF I made to help parents better understand how breastfeeding is going.

Barriers to Gauging Breastfeeding Success

Lack of Visible Measurements

Unlike bottle-feeding, where you can easily measure the ounces consumed, breastfeeding lacks a clear visual indicator of how much milk the baby is getting. This leaves some parents feeling uncertain about their baby's nutritional intake, leading to anxiety and doubt.

The Learning Curve

For both parents and newborns, breastfeeding is a learned skill that requires practice and patience. Parents may struggle initially with latching issues, finding comfortable positions, and understanding the baby's cues. This learning curve can make it challenging for parents to know whether their efforts are paying off or if adjustments are needed.

Growth Spurts and Cluster Feeding

Babies experience rapid growth spurts, where they may seem hungrier and fussier. Additionally, cluster feeding, where a baby feeds more frequently for a period, is common. These natural behaviors can leave parents questioning if their milk supply is adequate.

Perception of Low Milk Supply

One of the most prevalent concerns among breastfeeding parents is the fear of having a low milk supply. This worry can be exacerbated by societal pressure, conflicting advice, and misinformation. Most parents can produce sufficient milk for their babies, but the perception of low supply can cause unnecessary stress.

Challenges Beyond Milk Supply

Breastfeeding success extends beyond just the quantity of milk. Issues like latch problems, tongue-tie, and maternal health can impact the breastfeeding experience. Parents may struggle to identify these things and, as a result, may not realize that addressing them could improve the breastfeeding journey.

Emotional and Physical Well-Being

Breastfeeding can be emotionally and physically demanding for parents. Sleep deprivation, postpartum recovery, and hormonal changes can affect one's ability to assess breastfeeding objectively. I encourage parents to prioritize their well-being and provide support to navigate these challenges more effectively.

So how do we know?

How do we know if breastfeeding is going well? There are some clear signs that parents can look for.

Breastfeeding is going well when:

  • Your baby has 8 or more feeds in 24 hours

  • You hear your baby swallowing frequently during feeds

  • Breastfeeding is comfortable and pain-free

  • Your baby feeds between 5-4o minutes each time

  • Your baby is content during and after most feeds

  • Your baby has the expected number of wet and dirty diapers

  • Your baby has normal skin color

Still not sure?

I created the handout below for you to keep handy when you're unsure how breastfeeding is going or need reassurance. It contains the green flag signs above, plus additional warning signs to watch out for.

This handout is adapted from the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative.

How do I know that Breastfeeding is going well
Download PDF • 359KB

If you're still not sure if things are going well, or need a little reassurance, book an in-home or virtual support session with me. I will come to your home, and together, we will work through your challenges and find answers to your questions.


Have questions or want to learn more about my services? Click the "Book Now" button below to set up a First Meeting with me!

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