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Ask an Expert: I’m Afraid She Isn’t Getting Enough

Fan Question: My daughter was 5 weeks early and spent 9 days in the NICU. I pumped and then we began breastfeeding but she latched only for a short time, which we followed with bottles. A month later she’s latching better, but even if she nurses for a while, she still seems hungry and may take a 2 oz bottle. I’d like to EBF, but I am afraid she is not getting enough.

NANCY MOHRBACHER, IBCLC: Breastfeeding is in large part a confidence game. Keep in mind that babies’ feeding patterns differ when fed by breast and bottle. If a breastfeeding baby acts hungry, just go back and forth from breast to breast as many times as she wants. Unlike a bottle, your breasts are never empty. It’s not uncommon for a baby this age (your baby is now a full-term newborn) to spend the whole evening nursing. Try just going with it. The shortest distance between where you are now and EBF is to devote a few days to keeping your baby on the breast as much as possible. You will know she’s getting enough milk if her number of wet diapers and poops per day stays the same and if your breasts feel comfortable. (If she isn’t taking enough you would feel fuller and fuller over time.) If you want more reassurance, arrange for weight checks at her MD’s office or rent a Medela BabyWeigh scale for a week and do daily weight checks at home. (Go to http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/bnnsearch, enter your zip code, click on the “Rent Products” tab, and then on BabyWeigh Scale.) Babies younger than 3 months typically gain about an ounce per day. If needed, you can also eliminate bottles and reinforce breastfeeding by supplementing her at the breast. For help with this, consult a lactation consultant near you by going to www.ilca.org, click on the “Find a Lactation Consultant” link, and enter your zip code. I know you can do it! 
unnamedNancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA is a board-certified lactation consultant in the Chicago area who has been helping breastfeeding families since 1982. Her books for professionals are used worldwide. Her books for parents include Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, which she co-authored with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, and her tiny problem-solving guide, Breastfeeding Solutions In 2013, Nancy released her Breastfeeding Solutions smartphone app (available for Android and iPhones) to give mothers a quick, go-everywhere source of breastfeeding help. Nancy speaks at events around the world.