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How to Know Whether Your Breast Milk Is Sufficient for the Baby?

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How to Know Whether Your Breast Milk Is Sufficient for the Baby?

5 min read


Breast milk is nature's gift that provides complete nutrition for a newborn. This article talks about the importance of breastfeeding.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At October 19, 2016
Reviewed AtMarch 7, 2024

What Is Breast Milk?

Breast milk is the nutrition that nature has provided and is packed with everything required for the baby until six months of age. It is an ideal food for newborns. Breast milk is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that protect babies against many childhood illnesses. Breast milk production changes in volume and composition according to the time of the day, nursing frequency, and age of the baby to promote healthy growth.

What Is the Composition of Breast Milk?

Breast milk is composed of water, carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. Each of these nutrients plays a vital role in the development of infants.

  • Water: The human body depends on water to function. Water helps maintain hydration, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, and protects other organs. Human breast milk is composed of 90 percent of water.

  • Carbohydrates: The main carbohydrate in breast milk is milk sugar, otherwise known as lactose. Human milk contains more lactose than cow's milk.

  • Lipids: Lipids are the source of energy, cholesterol, and essential fatty acids such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These nutrients are necessary for developing the baby's brain, nervous system, and vision. Lipids make up four percent of breast milk.

  • Proteins: Proteins in breast milk are easy to digest for babies. These proteins are also essential for every stage of the human life cycle.

  • Antibodies: The primary antibody in breast milk is secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA). It coats the baby's lungs and intestines and seals them to prevent germs from entering the body and bloodstream.

Why Is Breastfeeding Necessary for the Baby?

Breastfeeding is necessary as:

  • It keeps the baby's body healthy.

  • It supplies essential nutrients needed for the body in proper proportions.

  • It protects the baby from developing allergies, sickness, and obesity.

  • It is easily digested and does not cause diarrhea, constipation, or stomach upset.

  • Babies have healthier weights as they grow.

  • Breastfed babies score high on IQ (intelligence quotient) tests.

Why Is Breastfeeding Important for Mothers?

Mothers who breastfeed

1) Have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer.

2) May find it easier to reach their usual weight maintained before pregnancy.

3) Strengthens their bond with their children.

What Are the Other Important Facts to Know About Breastfeeding?

  • A healthy newborn baby has to be started on exclusive breastfeeding as early as possible after birth and continued till six months of age.

  • Until six months, breast milk alone will take care of all the nutritional needs.

  • Breast milk gives water and energy to the baby and helps in growth.

  • It also contains various factors that are essential for brain growth.

  • It helps to build immunity and prevent infections.

  • Studies have shown numerous benefits of breastfeeding, like preventing the development of asthma, diabetes, and obesity later in life.

How to Breastfeed a Baby?

The following steps help to breastfeed a baby.

1) Mothers need to wash their hands before they start. They must sit in a comfortable position with their back straight and lap flat.

2) Find the correct breastfeeding position. Lay the baby across the lap, supporting their head, shoulders, and body in a straight line. Position the nose opposite to the nipple and allow the head to tilt back by supporting it with one hand. Use the other hand to hold them on their side.

3) Line up the baby's nose with a nipple. The baby's mouth should open wide enough to cover the nipple and the lower part of the dark areola.

4) Make sure that the baby has a good breastfeeding latch. The baby will tilt their head back, and their chin will be touching the mother's breast. The baby should take a mouthful of the breast, and the breast should go towards the roof of the mouth.

5) Check for swallowing. When the milk begins to flow, the mother can hear the baby's swallowing and see their jaws moving. As the flow increases, the mother can notice some tingly sensation in the breast.

6) To satisfy the baby's hunger and demand, let the baby feed as long as needed. The more the baby drinks, the more milk the breast produces. If the baby still needs more milk, a mother can offer the milk from another breast.

7) Babies can swallow some air while breastfeeding. Winding them brings the air up, and the milk goes down by preventing painful trapped wind. The best time for burping the baby is in the middle of a feed or after.

What Advice to Give to Breastfeeding Mothers?

  • Exclusive breastfeeding till six months completion that is not even water, oral medicines can be given when prescribed or supplements in low birth weight babies.

  • After six months of completion, start giving other feedings and breast milk because by now, growth is increasing, and breast milk will not be sufficient.

  • Breastfeeding mothers have to consume more calories (one extra meal) and enough fluids to have breast milk secretion sufficient for their baby.

How Can One Determine Whether a Newborn Is Getting Enough Milk?

  • Consistent Feeding: In addition to promoting healthy growth, frequent and efficient feedings also help mothers produce enough breastmilk for their child's next feed.

  • Swallowing: The infant will suck quickly to start the milk flow when they first latch onto the breast. However, as soon as they get going, they will start to suck slower and deeper as they take the milk in and swallow it.

  • Appears Content: The baby is probably getting enough milk if the baby appears content after nursing. On the other hand, if they seem lethargic or are losing weight, it could indicate that the infant is still hungry regardless of breastfeeding.

  • Weight Fluctuation: A newborn's weight fluctuation in the first few days of life is common. A baby's weight usually returns to its birth weight by day 10.

  • Softer Breast: After feeding, the breasts ought to feel softer. To increase the amount of milk available for the next feeding, try to empty the breasts as much as possible.

What Should a Mother Do if She Feels Her Child Is Not Getting Enough Milk?

If breastfeeders address most of their problems early on, including low supply, the majority of them can be resolved more simply. It can be beneficial to speak with a lactation consultant even if mothers are not sure if there is a problem. Mothers need to think about hand-expressing their milk if they are concerned that their baby is not receiving enough. The expressed milk can be given to them straight from a cup or teaspoon.

What Is the Calorie Count of One Ounce of Breast Milk?

Each ounce of milk has a different amount of calories. Breast milk typically contains 22 calories per ounce on average. Mothers have to burn calories for their bodies to create breast milk. In addition to the calories in the milk, their body typically burns an additional 20 % of its energy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that most babies feed every two to three hours and consume one to two ounces of breast milk each time. This amount rises to two to three ounces every feeding when the baby turns 2 weeks old.


Breastfeeding is an act that provides benefits both for the mother and the child. Breast milk, produced by the mammary glands present in the breast of a female, serves as the primary source of nutrition for newborns. This breast milk contains fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and antibodies essential for the baby's growth. By these vital components, breast milk provides immunity and prevents the development of infections in a newborn to have a healthy body forever.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Is Breastfeeding Very Essential?

Breastfeeding is essential for the mother and the fetus because of the following reasons:
- It supplies all the essential nutrients in the proper proportions.
- Breast milk can be easily digested and helps prevent constipation, diarrhea, or stomach upset.
- Breastfeeding protects against allergies, diseases, and infections.
- Breastfed babies gain healthier weights.
- IQ (intelligence quotient) score will also be higher in breastfed babies.


What Are the Different Types of Breastfeeding Positions?

Though breastfeeding is a natural activity, it requires skills. The different types of breastfeeding positions are listed below:
- Cradle hold.
- Cross cradle hold.
- Reclined breastfeeding.
- Upright breastfeeding.
- Side-lying position.
- Lay back breastfeeding.
- Dangle feeding.
- Nurse in a swing.
- Double rugby ball position.
- Dancer hand nursing position.


Which Is the Best Breastfeeding Position?

The lean-back position is considered the best position in which elements like pillows or cushions are used to comfort and support the back, neck, and shoulder. When the mother is in a comfortable position, the baby is placed in the front, and the baby's tummy should be resting on the mother's tummy.


What Is the First Milk Referred To?

Colostrum is referred to as the first milk from the breast. It can be white, yellow, or clear in color and is thicker than normal breast milk. It contains more proteins and minerals when compared to later mature breast milk.


How Long Is Breastfeeding Recommended for Babies?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend only breast milk for the first six months. Then breastfeeding can be continued along with introducing appropriate solid complementary foods for up to two years of age or longer.


Why Do Babies Spit Up After Breastfeeding?

Vomiting or spitting up milk after feeding is common in babies. This is because the splinter muscle present between the esophagus and the stomach is weak and will eventually become strong as the baby matures.


Is Spitting up a Sign of Overfeeding?

Spitting up can be due to several reasons, not necessarily due to overfeeding. Other factors contributing to spitting up are listed below:
- Drinking too much milk too quickly. 
- Food sensitivities can cause spitting up in babies such as cow milk products.
- When a baby is distracted from looking around, this can cause them to swallow air and spit up.
- Breastmilk forceful let-down or oversupply can cause reflux-like symptoms in babies.


What Factors Affect Breast Milk Production?

Breast milk is produced when the hormones prolactin and oxytocin work simultaneously. Milk production can be affected by a number of factors that, includes:
Maternal Factors:
- Stress and anxiety.
- Mother and child separation.
- Poor nutrition of the mother.
- Certain medications.
- Hormonal imbalances.
- Insufficient breast tissue.
- Breast or nipple surgery.
- Breast injury.
- Bad breastfeeding position.
Infant Factors:
- Baby refusing the breast milk.
- The baby sleeps for long periods.
- The prolonged duration between feedings.
- Weak suction.
- Infant formula and baby bottle usage.
- Short tongue frenulum.


What Is the Toughest Stage of Breastfeeding?

The first six weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest period because the mother has to deal with the sore nipple, find out the best feeding position, and check whether the baby is getting enough milk or not.


Is It Possible to Get Pregnant During Breastfeeding?

It is possible to ovulate and become pregnant from the monthly occurrence of periods where the mature egg is released from one of the ovaries during breastfeeding.


When Is Breastfeeding Not Allowed?

Mothers suffering from certain infectious diseases must avoid breastfeeding. In addition, breastfeeding is not allowed in the following circumstances:
- If the mother is infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
- If the mother is under any medication that can harm the baby.
- Mother undergoing radiation therapy.
- Mothers with active or untreated tuberculosis infections.
- Mother using illegal drugs.
- Mothers with human T-cell infections.
- Babies who cannot digest breastmilk.


How to Make Breastfeeding Easier?

It takes time for mothers to learn appropriate techniques for breastfeeding. However, it can be made easier in the following ways:
- Try breastfeeding on the sides.
- Find the best hold that works for both mother and baby.
- Wear a comfortable nursing bra.
- Try pumping milk.
- Stay hydrated.
- Stay relaxed.
- Soothe the soreness in the nipples.


When Does the Baby Refuse to Breastfeed?

A situation wherein the baby refuses to breastfeed is known as a nursing strike. The baby might refuse due to the following:
- When the latching position is not correct.
- Slow or fast milk flow.
- When the baby moves to the next developmental stage.
- When the baby needs to burp.
- Teething.
- Oral thrush.
- Baby affected with cold.
- Reflux.
- When the tummy is full.
Dr. Vijaykumar Mundeshi
Dr. Vijaykumar Mundeshi

Child Health


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