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Thread: How to know if a breast is empty?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    164

    Default How to know if a breast is empty?

    Hi,
    I'm sure this question has been asked before but I can't find a thread in my search...so I'll ask here. How can you tell when a breast is "empty" and it's time to offer the other side? It seems I can always express additional milk when DD pulls off. When I was bf'ing DS, he pretty much always nursed from both sides. DS often takes only one side. She's now 5.5 weeks old. I don't feel like I have an oversupply issue. Her poops are loose and frothy, but still mustard yellow (not green). Ok, totally getting away from my original question so I'll stop. :-)
    Thanks,
    Krista
    Last edited by @llli*LLLKaren; June 14th, 2012 at 08:59 AM.

    Married to Jake 10/7/06
    1st time mommy to Luke 6/24/09 1 week early but right on time. Was finally able to enjoy after good help from these wonderful ladies.

    Now back to these great forums with the arrival of little girl Meghan 5/6/12 ...2 weeks early, but still right on time. Successfully delivered naturally this time around!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    23

    Default Re: How to know when a breast is "empty"

    My lactation consultant says that "empty" is a misnomer. Your breast is never really completely empty. In my experience, you can usually tell when your breast softens especially in these early days. Also baby will slow down it's swallowing because the flow has slowed down. If baby unlatches itself and is content for a few minutes before wanting more from the other side, this is also a sign that baby has had it's fill of the first side.
    That being said, my daughter (6 weeks) has mostly been content to nurse only on one side at a time as well. In fact, she will protest if I try to give her more from the other side! But if you are worried about her emptying one side in order to get the hindmilk, I would suggest burping her and then trying to nurse on the same side again.
    I hope this helps!
    married to Ben 05/01/2004
    mama to 3 blessings:
    Ezra 03/01/2006
    Olivia 11/07/2008
    Eden 05/02/2012

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,637

    Default Re: How to know when a breast is "empty"

    There's no such thing as "empty". Just not as full. A good rule of thumb with a baby who is growing well and producing good diaper output is to allow the baby to finish the first breast at her own pace, then offer the second, and not stress if baby doesn't want it or takes only a few brief sucks.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Default Re: How to know when a breast is "empty"

    Very helpful, thank you!

    Married to Jake 10/7/06
    1st time mommy to Luke 6/24/09 1 week early but right on time. Was finally able to enjoy after good help from these wonderful ladies.

    Now back to these great forums with the arrival of little girl Meghan 5/6/12 ...2 weeks early, but still right on time. Successfully delivered naturally this time around!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    44

    Default Re: How to know when a breast is "empty"

    I'm not trying to steal your thread but I thought its a perfect place to add a question:

    My daughter is really gassy. She will eat from one side and pull of (only because she needs to burp)she still wants to eat. Should I offer the same breast then? If she is sleepy or pulls off and is content I will try burping her. If she wakes up I will then offer the other one and sometimes she takes it sometimes she doesn't. If she doesn't take it I find she will be hungry sooner then 2 hours but she is hard to wake up ????

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    1,293

    Default Re: How to know if a breast is empty?

    breasts are never empty on s nursing mom. is the baby gaining well? if yes i would just keep up whatever has been working for you until now.

    if you want to know when to offer the other side just look to your baby. whe she unlatches or seems to really slow down the sucking (maybe after about 10-20 min or so) i am not suggesting to time it, just to give you a reference.

    how old is the baby? about 6 weeks? I would just sit in a cozy spot and nurse all day, switching the baby back and forth while the baby sleeps/nurses.

    try to just keep and eye on the diapers. good luck.

  7. #7

    Default Re: How to know when a breast is "empty"

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*Angie0712 View Post
    I'm not trying to steal your thread but I thought its a perfect place to add a question:

    My daughter is really gassy. She will eat from one side and pull of (only because she needs to burp)she still wants to eat. Should I offer the same breast then? If she is sleepy or pulls off and is content I will try burping her. If she wakes up I will then offer the other one and sometimes she takes it sometimes she doesn't. If she doesn't take it I find she will be hungry sooner then 2 hours but she is hard to wake up ????
    You are doing exactly what you should be doing. let her take the same side or not, depending on how you feel-there is no right or wrong way, really. We all tend to overcomplicate this stuff way too much. I am not sure what you mean by
    If she doesn't take it I find she will be hungry sooner then 2 hours but she is hard to wake up
    How do you know baby is hungry if she does not wake up? Is she cueing in her sleep? If so, a baby can and will nurse in their sleep or when just waking, see the video here: www.biologicalnurturing.com

    It is also perfectly normal for a newborn to be hungry for the next feeding well before 2 hours have gone by. As long as your baby nurses frequently enough overall (in the early months typically a MINIMUM of 8-12 times a 24 hour day) and is gaining appropriately, you do not need to worry about how spaced out or not spaced out the feedings are.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    44

    Default Re: How to know when a breast is "empty"

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post
    I am not sure what you mean by "If she doesn't take it I find she will be hungry sooner then 2 hours but she is hard to wake up" How do you know baby is hungry if she does not wake up? Is she cueing in her sleep? If so, a baby can and will nurse in their sleep or when just waking.

    I just mean when she is done with one breast and I burp her she will fall asleep and when I try to wake her to continue eating she wont. I don't wake her out of a sleep when we are not nursing.

    It is also perfectly normal for a newborn to be hungry for the next feeding well before 2 hours have gone by. As long as your baby nurses frequently enough overall (in the early months typically a MINIMUM of 8-12 times a 24 hour day) and is gaining appropriately, you do not need to worry about how spaced out or not spaced out the feedings are.
    I wasn't really worried about how spaced out the feedings were but the doctor said try to hold her off 2-3 hours because it seemed loike she was "snacking" She seemed to eat every hour and now we are going on about 2 - 2 1/2 hours between (it really depends) if she is showing signs of being hungry I feed her. I don't care if it's only been an hour. She just doesnt eat long. Sometimes only 5 min. on one side and shes content but hungry quick. I'm lucky if I get 10 min. and lucky to get both breast

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    middle of IA
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    Default Re: How to know if a breast is empty?

    snacking is a very healthy way for all humans to eat, and eating 5 mins every hour is perfectly normal and healthy for a little baby. your doctor doesn't sound very familiar with breastfeeding patterns.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Indiana
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    Default Re: How to know if a breast is empty?

    DD has never taken more then 5-10 min to eat and alot of times will wait and want the other side within the hour I've never really thought to much about it I just feed her when she's hungry.
    Married to my High School sweetheart 5-15-04

    SAHM to:
    born 6/1/10 tongue and lip ties nursed 13 months with sore nipples and mutually agreed it was time to quit!
    born all natural 1/27/12 nursed for 16 months and lost interest
    1/1/14

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