Breastfeeding A Baby
1 AnswerOnce your milk supply is established, gradual weight loss should not interfere with breastfeeding. However, keep in mind that diets less than 1,800 calories a day are often low in vitamins, minerals and iron and often lead to fatigue and low milk supply. Diets with fewer than 1,500 calories a day -- or those that severely limit carbohydrates or fats -- are also not recommended at any time while you’re breastfeeding.
1 AnswerWhen your baby is in an active growing stage, expect more frequent feedings. Your body will naturally meet the extra demand for milk, so you won’t need formula to fill in the extra feedings. In fact, if you give your baby formula at this time, your breasts will not get the message to increase milk production.
Luckily, growth spurts last only for a day or two, and the number of feedings soon returns to normal. Your baby’s first growth spurt may come at two or three weeks of age. You may notice additional growth spurts as your baby nears six weeks, three months and six months of age.
Your body will naturally meet the extra demand for milk when your baby is in an active growing stage.
1 AnswerIf you are concerned that your baby is not getting enough milk, try the following suggestions for three days:
- Breastfeed as often as your baby will take the breast (at least every two hours during the day).
- Do not go longer than a five-hour stretch at night without breastfeeding.
- Pump both breasts after breastfeeding for added stimulation.
- Avoid using a pacifier. Let your baby suckle at your breast instead. This will help increase the amount of milk your body makes.
- Be sure your baby is positioned correctly at your breast.
- Eat at least three well-balanced meals and one nutritious snack each day. Do not try to lose weight if you are trying to boost your milk supply.
- If you feel thirsty, drink more water, milk or juice.
- Make sure you get plenty of rest and reduce stress.
1 AnswerYour breasts should feel full before feedings and softer afterward. Mother’s milk is easy to digest, so at first, your baby may want to eat at least every two to three hours. Breastfed babies should eat at least eight times in a 24-hour period during these early days.
If your baby doesn’t wake up on his own after three hours, wake him for a feeding. If he falls asleep within the first few minutes of breastfeeding, take him from the breast and try to wake him so he can nurse for a longer time (or feed him more often throughout the day). To wake your baby for a feeding, try unwrapping him, holding him skin-to-skin, firmly rubbing his back, changing his diaper or uncovering his hands.
To help maintain your milk supply, offer your baby both breasts at each feeding. However, always allow your baby to finish one breast before you offer the second. Not all babies will take both breasts at each feeding, so switch the side you start on.
Watch your baby for active feeding -- this means the whole mouth and jaw are moving in a rhythmic fashion. Breastfeed long enough to supply hindmilk, which is released after you have been nursing for 5 to 10 minutes. Your baby is probably full when the rhythm of the suck is no longer active. At this time, you may want to burp your baby, and then offer the second breast. Feed your baby as long as she wants, usually 10 to 20 minutes per breast. You should be able to hear swallowing throughout the feeding.
1 AnswerYou and your baby are two different personalities. You both may need a week or two before breastfeeding feels natural. Breastfeeding is a skill you will learn together. How often and how long you breastfeed will change as you and the needs of your baby change.
Think of your first breastfeeding as a special “hello” between you and your new baby. The sooner you get acquainted, the better. Babies are very alert after they are born and are usually hungry, too! Your baby’s first feeding can be within the first 30 minutes to 2 hours after delivery. If possible, your baby should be placed on your chest or belly, skin to skin, right after delivery.
Some mothers and babies are unable to breastfeed right away. If this is the case for you, be assured that your healthcare providers will help you to build and maintain your milk supply until you have a chance for that first special feeding.
Although your first few breastfeeding sessions may feel awkward, these early feedings encourage milk production and give your baby a healthy start in life. Don’t be shy about asking for help. Don’t worry if it seems that your baby is only getting a small amount of milk during these first feedings. Before your milk supply increases (usually by the third or fourth day), your baby will only need and receive a small amount of colostrum from your breasts -- only teaspoons to tablespoons each feeding. Yet this small amount is enough to nourish your baby.
1 AnswerNo matter how you’re holding your baby, watch for these two breastfeeding basics:
- Your baby’s mouth should be at the same level as your nipple. He shouldn’t have his chin on his chest or need to lift up his chin to grasp the nipple.
- Your baby’s chin should be in a straight line with his belly, not turned to the side. Make sure his belly is directly facing you and that his knees are touching you.
1 AnswerProper positioning makes breastfeeding easier and more comfortable for both you and your baby. It allows your baby to remove the milk from your breast and swallow easily. It also helps you avoid tender nipples. Every mother and baby have different needs, so you’ll want to find a breastfeeding position that is comfortable for both of you. Try a few different positions and use what works best for you. As your baby grows, you may find your preference changes.
1 AnswerYou should hold your baby so that your bare skin touches his bare skin. Human touch warms your baby better than blankets or an incubator and can be a natural pain reliever for him during procedures like heel sticks for blood tests.
Just as important, snuggling skin-to-skin feels great to a baby -- and it’s nice for mom and dad too. It relaxes your baby and helps the two of you bond. Also called “kangaroo care,” skin-to-skin is especially good for breastfeeding sessions. Why?
- It helps your baby wake up and get ready to breastfeed.
- It helps you recognize your baby’s feeding cues -- the signs that show your baby is hungry -- such as bringing his hands to his mouth, moving his mouth and tongue, or just quietly moving around.
- It helps with letdown, the release of milk from your breasts.
1 AnswerYour body makes different types of milk to meet your baby’s special needs.
Colostrum, the yellowish “first milk” that may leak from your breasts during late pregnancy, is your baby’s first food. This thick liquid provides your baby with food and antibodies (disease-fighting substances) that your body has built up over time. During the first few days after delivery, your breasts produce colostrum.
Over the next two weeks, your breasts will gradually begin to produce mature mother’s milk. Also, the milk your baby drinks can change over the course of a single feeding. The more watery foremilk comes first in a feeding, giving your baby plenty of liquid along with nutrients and antibodies. The creamy hindmilk comes later as your baby continues to drink, giving your baby additional healthy fats.
It’s important for your baby to get both foremilk and hindmilk at each feeding. An imbalance could cause your baby to have extra gas or to have medical problems. Contact a lactation consultant if you have questions.
1 AnswerIt’s your choice whether to breastfeed when other people are around. Many states have laws that confirm a woman’s right to breastfeed in public, even if there is some exposure of the breast. Breastfeeding is healthy, natural, common -- and an easy way to feed your baby on the go.