Why is My Baby Still Hungry After Breastfeeding?

Most new moms want to do what is best for their babies, and that includes breastfeeding. They find themselves in the routine of changing diapers, pumping milk, and regular feedings.

It’s an exhausting but necessary cycle each day. After finishing the most recent feeding and getting the little one to sleep, it’s time to sit down and relax. But, when they do, the baby starts fussing again.

Unfortunately for some moms, this is another part of the daily cycle. They begin to wonder if there is something wrong with their breast milk since it isn’t keeping them full or that maybe they should be supplementing with something else.

Before jumping straight to formula, you need to understand the other factors that prevent a baby from appearing unsatisfied after feeding.

1. Low Supply

It’s a possibility you aren’t producing enough milk. There’s no way to measure the amount in the breast, but there’s also no reason to panic right away.

Try Frequent Feedings and Offering Both Breasts

If you suspect your supply is low, you can try increasing your feedings. Milk production fluctuates based on the amount removed from the breast. (Removal could be through regular feeding or pumping.)

Also, be sure to offer both breasts. If one is a little behind in production, switching sides will give your child more milk and fill their belly.

It also stimulates both breasts to begin production for the next feeding.

See a Lactation Consultant

If you think you have low milk production, try one of the following techniques to stimulate production.

You can see a lactation consultant or breastmilk specialist to assess your supply. They may watch a feeding to make sure that your baby is latching correctly.

Relax with Calming Music

Another technique they could recommend is to listen to music that you find relaxing to reduce anxiety and increase the flow.

Having more skin-to-skin contact with your infant will release oxytocin, a hormone that will help get your milk flowing.

Warm Compress or Massage to Breast Tissue

Some suggest applying moist heat to the breasts will allow the milk ducts to open for a better flow.

A few minutes before you’re ready to feed, place a hot, moist compress. Lightly massaging the area, starting from the top and work towards the nipple.

The slight pressure will help direct the flow of milk.

Power Hour Pumping

For moms who are pumping, in addition to nursing, you can try a pumping power hour.

As the name states, you need to set aside one hour to complete the process, and it’s best to do it at the same time each day.

Start by pumping for 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute rest. Pump for an additional 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes, and then pump for the last 10 minutes of the session.

2. Increase your Protein

Protein is a necessary nutrient for adults and kids of any age, but nursing mothers must get the appropriate amount of protein since it helps milk production.

Usually, the recommendation for women is around 60 grams per day. During lactation, a mother needs to increase their intake by 19g for infants ages 0-6 months.

When they reach six months, it can decrease to an extra 13g of protein per day.

Sources of Protein

Meat, eggs, milk, and cheese are good sources of high-quality protein. It doesn’t have to come from only animal sources, though.

Tofu, seitan, tempeh, seeds, legumes, and nuts are all good protein sources to include in a daily diet. In some situations, mothers may find they need to add a supplement to meet their daily protein requirements.

Mixing a quality powder, like whey protein isolate, with a cup of milk or plant based alternative and 1 TBSP of almond butter will create a high-protein shake that will help you reach your protein goal.

3. Variations in Breast Milk

There are two kinds of milk available when your baby begins feeding. They are all produced by the same milk cells, but the consistency of the milk can change based on how long it has been since the last feeding.

Foremilk is available at the beginning of a feeding. It is a combination of remaining milk from the previous feed and newly produced milk. It has a waterier consistency which results in a lower fat content.

Hindmilk comes closer to the end of the session and has a higher fat content.

Avoid Switching Breasts Too Quickly

Sometimes moms can switch breasts too quickly. Changing too soon can mean your baby is only drinking foremilk, which is why they always seem hungry.

It causes an imbalance in the babys’ system and may cause the baby to have green poop, gas, colic symptoms, and of course, being more fussy than usual. Allow the breast to empty before moving to the other side.

4. Growth Spurt

Babies go through multiple growth spurts. Like children of all ages, they tend to eat more when going through one of these periods.

Not only will they want to increase their feedings, but their sleep patterns may change, often increasing how much they need to sleep.

Cluster Feeding

Sometimes during a growth spurt, babies will cluster feed. Cluster feeding is when your baby feeds several times within the hour.

It usually occurs in the evenings when babies tend to be fussier. It’s an instinct that helps increase milk production while supporting their growing bones during a growth spurt.

Having a full belly can also help them sleep for lengthier periods throughout the night.

5. Non-Nutritive Sucking

If your baby is making a sucking motion, it’s natural to think they are still hungry. However, babies are born with the instinct to suck, known as non-nutritive sucking.

It is a reflex that helps them feed while bringing comfort. It happens near the end of the feeding, between swallows of milk, or if the baby is at the breast, but there’s no supply ready.

Cues That Your Baby is Still Hungry

Now that you know a few reasons why your baby might appear hungry, how can you determine when they are? There are some basic hunger cues to look for if your baby is still fussy.

  1. The most obvious sign is if the baby is crying. Check for other problems first, such as a dirty diaper, overheated, loneliness, or uncomfortable in any other way.
  2. If they appear to be rooting, they are likely hungry. Rooting is when the corner of the mouth tries to find the nipple.
  3. Hands near the mouth.
  4. They continue to get fussy even when you’re holding them.
  5. They are continually sucking on clothing or hands.
  6. Their head is turning side to side.

As they grow and begin adding solids into their diet around six months, hunger cues are still important.

If they are not hungry, signals will include turning their head from side to side (as if they are saying no), lean back in their seat, refuse to open their mouth, or stop making eye contact.

How to Know They Are Getting Enough

There are a few ways to track that they are getting enough food. One way is to take note of how many wet diapers they have daily.

There should be a certain number of diapers changed a day. For about the first five days, there will only be a few.

After day five, this number will increase to about six wet diapers a day. The exact number will be different between babies and vary each day.

Unless you notice a significant drop in the number of diapers, your baby is likely getting enough milk.

Also, consult with your pediatrician. As long as your baby continues to follow their growth chart in an expected trajectory, you can be comforted that your little one is getting enough milk.