When pregnant, it seems that everyone has an opinion about everything: when you should sleep train, what is the right car seat, even which toys are best for your baby. One thing that everyone seems to agree on is that any amount of breastmilk is good for your baby!
If you are able to breastfeed your child, the benefits to both you and your baby are well documented. Breastfeeding is an exercise in bonding, in creating a safe space for your baby, for transferring the nutrients they need to grow, and for passing along antibodies that will protect their growing bodies.
Breastfeeding is not a walk in the park, though! Many mothers find it a challenging experience, particularly if it is their first child. Katie Howser, registered lactation consultant, leads Inceptive's class, 'Breastfeeding 101: basics & tips for nursing your baby', which answers many of the questions that new parents have about breastfeeding. In this course, Ms. Howser explains the differences between colostrum and mature milk, the best positions for breastfeeding, proper latching, and more.
One of the biggest questions that mothers have about breastfeeding is: How do I know if my newborn is getting enough milk? According to Ms. Howser, this is the most common question that she answers, and it is an important one! Of course it is necessary to make sure that your baby is getting enough food, and it can be quite difficult to tell, especially for a new mother, how much is enough.
The science of successful milk transfer between a mother and a baby has a very simple equation at the core of it: Input equals output. Very luckily, your baby has a very obvious output - their pee and poop! For the first five days of their life, your baby should have the same number of pees and poops as days that they have been alive. So, on day one, there should be one pee and one poop, day two should bring two pees and two poops, and so on, with day five bringing five pees and five poops. This is in a 24-hour period, so if your child is born at 2pm, then you are looking for these pees and poops by 2pm the following day. If you’re not hitting those milestones, then that will let you know that your baby is not getting enough milk.
You will also be able to tell a lot from the type and consistency of baby poop. In the first days of breastfeeding, a new mother will be producing colostrum. Colostrum is also known as liquid gold, and is a thick, sticky liquid that contains a massive amount of nutrition and antibodies. Each time your baby feeds in the first few days of life, they are only getting a very tiny amount - a baby’s stomach will only hold five to seven milliliters! Colostrum will lead to your baby producing meconium, which is a dark, viscous poop that is usually (thankfully!) without much odor. As the mother’s milk changes to transitional milk, the baby’s poop will likewise change to transitional poop, and by days two or three, you should have two or three transitional poops a day. As the mature breast milk comes in between days five and seven, stools will become lighter in color, almost bright yellow, and be much more loose. There is nothing to worry about there! Breast milk is a natural laxative, so the baby poop will reflect that.
Now, with all this focusing on output, don’t forget about the input! It’s very easy to focus all of your attention on your new baby and forget to take care of yourself. While producing breast milk, new mothers will need between 300 to 500 extra calories a day, and they will also need to be making sure to keep very well hydrated! Breast milk is 87% water so you might find yourself becoming dehydrated much more quickly than you are accustomed to. The good news is that there are no longer any dietary restrictions like during pregnancy, so those extra calories can come from sushi, soft cheeses, deli meats - all of the delicious treats you craved during pregnancy but couldn’t have! But of course, if you think something you're eating is affecting your baby through your breast milk or want to learn about foods to avoid when breastfeeding, talk to your lactation consultant and doctor.
As a new parent, navigating experiences like breastfeeding can be tricky. It can seem as though there is too much information out there, and not enough of it comes from experts. With guidance from the highly accomplished professionals at Inceptive, you can find the information and advice you need, from people you can trust. To learn more about breastfeeding, enroll in Katie Howser’s Breastfeeding 101 course.
 “What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?” Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/breastfeeding/conditioninfo/benefits.
 Martin, Camilia R et al. “Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant Formula.” Nutrients vol. 8,5 279. 11 May. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8050279.