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Is My Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?

Baby Nurses Well But Then Spits Up -- Is This Normal?

Successfully breastfeeding your child can feel like a huge accomplishment! They latched on properly, they nursed well, and your breasts feel empty. Hooray! And then they spit up. Now what? Does this mean that everything they just consumed was wasted?
It's normal for infants to spit up a small amount after eating or when you burp them. However, that being said, an infant should not vomit after a feeding. If this happens occasionally, it may be because your little one took too much. If vomiting is happening after most or all feedings, it may be a sign of a digestive problem, an allergy, or some other problem that requires medical attention.
If you are concerned that your infant is spitting up frequently or is vomiting after most feedings, consult your child's healthcare provider.

When There Is a Problem

If it has been determined that your baby is not getting enough milk, then it's time to figure out why this is the case. In many situations, there is just not enough suction on your little one's part. If he or she is not sucking enough, or is sucking ineffectively, then there won't be adequate milk intake. Simply learning some new techniques for how to help your baby latch on may help.
Some tips to make sure your baby is latching on correctly include:
  • Making sure your baby's mouth is wide open
  • Checking that the baby's chin is touching the breast and the lower lip is turned outward
  • Being able to see more of the areola above the baby's mouth than below it
  • Being able to hear and see your baby taking slow, deep sucks and swallows.
Babies who are breastfeeding well should be allowed to nurse as often and as long as they want. They should be able to finish one breast and then have a turn with the other breast, although they may or may not want much more. And remember, the more they eat, the more milk your breasts will produce to keep up with your little one's growing appetite.
If none of the latch-on techniques are working and you are still having problems with breastfeeding effectively, you may consider using a nipple shield. In certain situations, these can help to improve breastfeeding for some infants (see Ins and Outs of Nipple Shields).
In rare cases, there may also be occasions in which a mother has poor mammary gland development or a hormonal problem and she is unable to produce enough milk. If you find yourself in this situation, talk with your healthcare provider about your options. If you are able to produce some milk and then supplement with formula, it may be worth it -- even using some breast milk can be beneficial (see What's the Big Deal With Breastfeeding? and The Whys and Hows of Expressing Breast Milk).
Psychological factors can also come into play. Mothers who are breastfeeding can sometimes feel incompetent or inexperienced and, therefore, may turn to bottle feeding for the reassurance of knowing exactly how much their baby is drinking. Or, in some cases, moms may just be tired and will feed their baby less often.
There are times when it can be difficult for a mom to have that special connection with her baby while breastfeeding. This lack of bonding may lead to not holding the baby close enough, prevention of a good latch, or the mom not wanting to feed her infant as often or as long as she should. If you notice any of these signs, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can help you decide on the best way to feed your child.
Women who are trying so hard to breastfeed the "right" way can be overwhelmed with stress. This stress can actually prevent your breasts from "letting down" the milk. Although there is insufficient evidence saying that this would affect long-term milk supply, it is important for mothers to try to relax as much as possible. Breastfeeding should be a relaxing and bonding time for you and your bundle of joy, not one full of stress and frustration.
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