Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
Breastfeeding has so many benefits for both babies and their moms. It helps defend your baby against infections, promotes bonding, and calms you and your baby. Unfortunately, breastfeeding is not always easy and many moms wonder what are the symptoms of not eating enough while breastfeeding?
If you are worried about your baby not eating enough or your body is not producing enough milk due to an unbalanced diet, you have come to the right article.
In this article, we will cover all about the symptoms of not eating enough while breastfeeding in babies and moms, possible reasons for low milk supply, and best tips to handle these situations.
Why Does Breastfeeding Make You So Hungry and Thirsty?
Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy. According to NCBI, milk production consumes 25% of the body’s energy. Breastfeeding also requires a lot of water. This is why you may feel thirsty when breastfeeding. In fact, nursing moms should drink about 16 cups of water per day.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months. They say that it helps achieve optimal growth, development, and health.
In other words, your breastmilk is the only food your baby eats during the first six months of his life. During this time, your baby needs enough nutrients every day to grow strong and healthy. And this is exactly what breastmilk provides for your baby.
Therefore, a healthy and balanced diet is important for you if you want to produce the safest and healthiest breastmilk to feed your child.
Thereafter, when your baby starts to eat solid foods, at the age of six months, you can continue breastfeeding as long as your baby needs it, usually until the age of two years of life.
Symptoms of Not Eating Enough While Breastfeeding in Babies
Unlike bottle-feeding mothers, breastfeeding mothers can’t measure the exact amount of breastmilk their babies drink unless they pump their milk.
Therefore, is it very common for breastfeeding moms to feel that maybe their babies are not eating enough while breastfeeding.
Baby Is Not Gaining Enough Weight
The best way to know as a breastfeeding mom, whether your baby is eating enough while breastfeeding or not is by tracking his weight gain.
If your baby is not getting weight or even losing weight after two weeks of exclusively breastfeeding, this is a symptom of not eating enough while breastfeeding.
For this reason, monitoring your baby’s weight gain is so important.
Why Is My Breastfed Baby Always Hungry?
Many new breastfeeding moms think that their babies are always hungry. It is important to understand that breastfeeding is different than bottle feeding.
While bottle-fed babies can eat every 3 to 4 hours, breastfed babies are breastfeeding on demand. This means that breastfed babies may eat every time they ask for it, which is about every 1-1/2 to 3 hours.
This happens because breast milk is easier to digest than formula. For this reason, it may seem like your breastfeeding baby is always hungry. But the best indication is tracking your baby weight gain over time.
Baby Is Always Crying
Another symptom that can signal that your baby is not eating enough while breastfeeding is excessive crying. Yet, this symptom can’t be the only one when it comes to poor feeding in babies.
There are 10 common reasons why your baby may cry:
- Need to burp
- Need for attention
- Dirty diaper
- Needs sleep
- General discomfort
- Too cold or too hot
- And hunger!
How Do I Know If My Baby Is Crying Because Of Hunger?
Crying is often a late sign of hunger in babies. If your baby is crying and also moving his head from side to side, putting his fingers into his mouth, making faces, cooing, sucking on his tongue and lips, turning his head towards your breast while being held, this means that he is crying because he is hungry.
To make sure, you can also go over all the reasons why your baby may cry, and if you notice that your baby is crying mainly because he is hungry, this could be another symptom of not eating enough while breastfeeding.
Teething and Colic in Babies
It is important to note that if your baby is crying all the time and it looks like he is hungry, but he gains weight, maybe he is crying for other reasons such as teething or colic.
Colic is a special pattern of crying. It usually starts during the first six weeks of life and goes away by the age of 3 to 4 months. If your baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks, this means that your baby has colic.
Symptoms of Not Eating Enough While Breastfeeding in Moms
Figuring this out should be much easier for you compared to your baby not eating enough. Here are the most common symptoms of not eating enough while breastfeeding.
Low Milk Supply
The first sign of not eating enough while breastfeeding is low milk production.
Many new moms go on a diet as soon as they deliver their baby. The desire to go back to the pre-pregnancy shape is so understandable. But sometimes, unbalanced diets postpartum may hurt milk production and slower postpartum recovery.
Does My Diet Affect My Breastfed Baby?
Sure it is!
First, you should know that as a breastfeeding mom, you might need to eat a bit more than you used to eat before – about 300 to 400 additional calories per day. Your body needs these calories to produce breast milk for your baby.
Moreover, the food you eat directly affects the taste of your breastmilk. For this reason, many breastfeeding moms choose to avoid spicy foods while breastfeeding.
Furthermore, many moms believe that there are certain foods that can make your baby feel gassy, such as beans, cabbage, broccoli, etc. While it is very common for moms to be warned to avoid these gassy foods, there is a study that found that gas and fiber do not pass into breastmilk. In this case, you can avoid these foods, especially during the colic period to check whether it helps decrease these symptoms or not.
How Long Does It Take for Food to Pass into Breast Milk?
In general, it takes up to 24 hours for foods to pass into breastmilk. Some foods may pass even after 2 to 8 hours. That being said, not all foods pass or affect breastmilk.
According to MayoClinic, it is important to maintain a healthy diet while breastfeeding. A highly nutritious diet is essential for breastfeeding moms and helps produce breast milk.
Remember, your body needs the energy to produce enough milk to breastfeed your baby and also recover after birth. Give yourself time to rest and eat well to boost postpartum recovery and milk supply.
Ways to Increase Breast Milk Production
- Breastfeed more often. Even if it feels like your baby is breastfeeding all the time. You should know that breastfed babies breastfeed more often compared to bottle-fed babies.
- Pump more often. Pumping breastmilk helps increase milk supply. You can also pump after nursing to ensure that your breasts are completely empty. This will signal your body that your baby needs more milk.
- Try lactation cookies like these fudgy brownie boobie bites that boost milk supply.
- Maintain a healthy diet while breastfeeding.
- Drink more water.
- Read these 11 tips to increase breastmilk naturally!
Depression and Anxiety
Giving birth is a trauma that your body goes through. Birth trauma is physical, but it is also emotional. New moms need to get used to their new life with their babies, especially first-time moms who didn’t take care of babies before.
Postpartum depression and anxiety are very common, more than what many people think. This is why giving your body all it needs to recover postpartum is essential.
In addition to emotional adjustments, many new moms experience hair loss, vitamin deficiencies, mood swings, depression, tiredness, and many other conditions after giving birth. Going on a diet right after giving birth to lose weight, is not always the best thing to do. Especially when you plan to breastfeed your baby.
Studies have found that a poor diet is related to depression. You probably know that a poor diet can cause vitamin deficiencies and tiredness which can contribute to postpartum depression. This can be another symptom of not eating enough while breastfeeding in moms.
How to Treat Postpartum Depression?
- Ask for professional help.
- Eat well
- Try to get better sleep
- Try to relax
- Share with your family.
What to Eat While Breastfeeding to Increase Baby Weight?
If you are determined to help your baby increase his weight faster, follow these steps:
- Increase your daily calorie intake.
- Include 2 to 3 protein foods in your daily diet. This can include fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, and beans. You can add healthy protein shakes to your breastfeeding diet.
- Drink a lot of water. About 16 cups a day.
- Eat whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, breads, and cereal.
- Eat 2-3 fruits every day.
- Eat 3-4 servings of vegetables every day.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine while breastfeeding.
- Breastfeed on demand.
- Relax and try to get better sleep.
We hope that we managed to help you understand better the most common symptoms of not eating enough while breastfeeding in babies and in moms. Breastfeeding can be challenging but it is definitely worth it. As a mom, you should always follow your instincts since you know best what is good for your baby. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and consulate your health care provider when you feel you need it.