Nurses and Lactation Consultants often hear new mothers voice concern about their ability to produce enough breast milk to satisfy their newborn’s appetites. There are several myths regarding newborns and their nutrition requirements, and unfortunately new moms are overwhelmed with information from well-meaning friends, family and various websites.
How Much Breast Milk Does My Baby Need?
Research has shown us that a newborn’s stomach capacity in their first 24 hours is approximately 7 ml (1-2 teaspoons volume), increasing to about 27 (5-6 teaspoons volume) by 48 hours of age.
Because it is normal for babies to cry and fuss a lot during their first few days it is often perceived that this is from hunger, when in reality it most times is not. A mothers’ willingness to feed their baby often enhances her body’s ability to begin the process of lactogenesis by stimulating her production of oxytocin. This is a powerful hormone that is produced in-part as a response to the baby suckling at the breast.
A Key Factor in Producing Breast Milk
Another key factor in the process of producing breast milk is the amount of time new mothers spend with their newborn in a “skin-to-skin” state. Also termed ‘kangarooing,’ especially when referring to babies hospitalized in the Neonatal ICU, this means mom holding baby closely to her chest and upper abdomen in an upright position, chest to chest, tummy to tummy. The baby’s back and possibly head are covered to help ‘cocoon’ body warmth and thus allows the infant to burn fewer calories and promote better internal organ structure and function. I like to explain this in more layman’s terminology by saying, “It helps to warm baby up and promote better circulation to his digestive tract, thereby promoting his sense of hunger.”
Doctors and nurses know what to look for when observing a baby at the breast, as well as when to be concerned about a true lack of adequate breast milk during the first few days. By accessing help from your nurses during your hospital stay, you can be assured that you will get quality, evidenced-based advice to help you on your breastfeeding journey. Our is to help you and your baby learn how and when to breastfeed, so that by the time you are discharged you will be making milk and have the skills needed to ensure that your baby knows how to get enough.