Q: I'm afraid I'm not producing adequate amounts of milk. How can I tell?
A: This is a common concern among new breastfeeding moms, because unlike with a bottle, it's difficult to tell just how much milk your baby is drinking. But here's the good news: If you're nursing frequently and effectively and taking care of yourself, you shouldn't have trouble making enough milk. You'll know you're on the right track if you can hear your little one swallowing as she nurses, she sleeps for a few hours after feedings, pees frequently (at least six to eight wet diapers a day) and is gaining weight, says pediatrician and breastfeeding advocate Harvey Karp, M.D., F.A.A.P., creator of the book and DVD The Happiest Baby on the Block (2003). Breast milk production is based on supply and demand, so to ensure that your production stays high, your best bet is to nurse, nurse, nurse. The first few days after delivery are particularly crucial, as that's when you "program" your breasts to establish a healthy, flexible supply, Morton notes. It's also important to eat well, drink plenty of fluids, avoid excessive exercise and sneak in as many naps as possible. ("Nothing is more detrimental to milk supply than fatigue," says Lawrence.) If all else fails, you can use a breast pump to increase your production, Karp says. Start by pumping an ounce or two about 30 to 45 minutes before your baby's first morning feeding (she'll probably fall into an eating routine fairly early on, so it will be easy to predict when she'll want to nurse). Gradually increase to pumping two to three ounces two or three times a day, if necessary.