Is My Baby Breastfeeding Well?

Sponsored editorial from Annapolis Pediatrics

As a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, I see many moms who are breastfeeding. A common concern is whether or not they are nursing well. There are several cues that breastfeeding moms watch for to ensure breastfeeding is going well.


Positive Cues:

  • When the baby is nursing, their mouth is open wide and their lips are turned out or flanged around the breast.
  • The baby’s latch is asymmetric, i.e. the baby’s chin is resting against the mother’s breast.
  • The baby has taken as much of the mother’s areola as possible into their mouth. The “sweet spot” for a deep latch actually requires the nipple to reach between the baby’s hard and soft palate on the roof of her mouth.
  • The breastfeeding mom can hear their baby swallowing regularly and they are suckling rhythmically and deeply (in short bursts separated by pauses).
  • The breastfeeding mother’s nipple is comfortable after the first few suckles.

MomandBaby BreastfeedingAreas for Improvement:

  • The baby’s head is not in line with his or her body.
  • The baby is sucking on the nipple only, instead of suckling on the mother’s areola with the nipple far back in their mouth.
  • The baby is sucking in a light, quick, fluttery manner rather than taking deep, regular sucks.
  • The baby’s cheeks are puckered inward or the baby is making clicking noises while nursing.
  • The breastfeeding mother doesn’t hear the baby swallow regularly after her milk production has increased.
  • The breastfeeding mother has pain throughout the feed or has signs of nipple damage (such as cracking or bleeding).

In addition to proper nursing technique, many breastfeeding mothers worry that their baby is not receiving enough breastmilk. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a well-nourished newborn should:

  • Have one or two bowel movements per day on days one and two of life. At first, stools are blackish and tarry, and then transition greenish to yellow stools between days three and four of life. By the time your baby is 1 week old, her stools should be yellow and loose, with small seed-like curds. As your milk production increases, your baby is likely to stool with each feeding for the first month of life.
  • Have six or more wet diapers per day, with nearly colorless or pale yellow urine, by five to seven day of life.
  • Seem satisfied and happy for an average of one to three hours between feedings.
  • Nurse at least eight to twelve times every twenty-four hours.

Be sure to contact your primary care pediatric provider if you have any concerns about breastfeeding or your baby’s growth and development.

Source New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics) and www.healthychildren.org

Kendra Nagey, CPNP works for Annapolis Pediatrics in the Annapolis and Severna Park offices. Ms. Nagey received her BSN and MSN from Johns Hopkins University and has a special interest in lactation and nutrition. Annapolis Pediatrics can be reached at 410.263.6363 or www.annapolispediatrics.com.

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