Early Breastfeeding Q&A - 3 Questions Parents Ask
The first few hours and days of breastfeeding can be daunting for new parents. Most tackle the same issues and are left with similar questions. Here are a few questions I get asked often by new moms and dads. Starting with frequency. It’s important to understand that newborns feed frequently. It may be every 1-2 hours, or in 45 minute time spans.
I hear you Nicole, But my baby is feeding so OFTEN. Maybe he's not getting enough.
The proteins in breastmilk are small, it is a lot easier to digest. A breastfed
baby will feed more often than a formula fed baby. Breastmilk is much easier on their immature digestive systems. Also, a newborn’s stomach is very small. At this time you will be producing about 30 mLs of colostrum per day; more than enough to feed your baby. 3-5 days after birth, your milk will increase in volume. This denser, whiter milk will have more fat and an increase in protein and he will stay fuller a little longer.
It's also very important to understand hunger cues. It is much easier to feed a baby before they're crying, fussy and frantic. Doing so will also keep your stress hormones in check and allow your body to produce the oxytocin it needs to breastfeed efficiently.
When do I know my baby is hungry?
In the early hours and days of life, your newborn may not be as alert and wake up to feed as often. This is especially true if you've utilized a lot of medical interventions (induction, narcotics, cesarean) and baby is tightly swaddled. Setting an alarm to wake up is a good idea. After the first 24 hours babies become much more alert and will feed often through the night. Hunger cues to be aware of are as follows:
Early hunger cues:
Smacking or licking lips
Opening and closing mouth
Sucking on tongue, lips, hands,
Rooting (turning head to the
side searching for nipple)
Late hunger cues:
Moving head frantically from
side to side
Fussing and breathing fast
Do I need to give my baby anything else to eat or drink?
Your milk is designed to hydrate and nutritionally satisfy our newborn. Your foremilk is thinner and will quench his thirst. The hindmilk is denser and calorie rich providing baby all the nutrients he needs for the first 6 months of life. Resist the urge to use bottles or pacifiers. This is especially important for mothers that want to exclusively breastfeed. By using a pacifier, you are satisfying your babies sucking need and decreasing the stimulation to your nipples needed to increase milk volume. The use of bottles will create a preference; not confusion. Confusion does happen, but more often than not they develop a preference because it’s much easier to get milk out of a bottle. He has to work harder to massage milk from the breast and may begin to prefer the bottle over your breast. At about 6 weeks, a good breastfeeding regimen should be established, and introducing any of these items at this point should not interfere with breastfeeding.