As an IBCLC, one of the most frequent questions I'm asked is "How do I know if my baby is eating enough?"
Well, friends, the answer is in the diaper. 💩
While it's not the only sign we look for to tell if baby is getting enough to eat at the breast, monitoring diaper output is an important piece of the puzzle when considering whether baby is transferring its full meals. Afterall, what goes in, must come out!
The chart below shows the minimum wet and dirty diaper count that we expect for a baby that is transferring effectively:
In order for a poop to "count," it should be at least the size of a quarter. A "smudge" or a "streak" do not count.
If your breastfeeding baby is not keeping up with the above wet and dirty diaper targets, it is important to work with an IBCLC and the baby's pediatrician to evaluate why this is happening, and to make a plan to ensure baby is being fed appropriately.
In addition to the diaper count, we also look at the color and texture of the poop for clues, especially in the early days. Day 1, poop is typically black and tar-like. As milk increases in volume and transitions from colostrum (the first milk) to mature milk, the poop also transitions to brown, then green, and finally, mustard yellow color with a seedy consistency.
While there are always variations within the range of normal, if your baby's poop varies substantially from what is expected, this is a reason to see a Lactation Consultant. Additionally, blood or mucus in your baby's poop needs to be evaluated right away.
While I never expected part of my job to entail asking parents about their baby's poop, and I especially never anticipated actually wanting to see the dirty diapers myself, it turns out poop can tell us a lot when we know what we're looking for!