By Molly Peterson, IBCLC
Picture it: Your little one is here! Whether you delivered at home, in a hospital, or at a birth center you are now fully emersed in all things baby. Counting their fingers and toes over and over, bathing in how they smell, kissing the top of their head more times than you ever thought possible, and basking in the rush of oxytocin that flows over you every time you put your baby to the breast. For most, this new season of parenting is exciting, but can also be filled with lots of questions especially around breastfeeding. Let’s see if we can answer some of those common questions to help ease your mind!
How often should I feed my baby?
Newborns like to eat! While I am a huge fan of feeding on demand (feeding your baby whenever they are hungry), in the first few days after birth it’s normal for babies to lose up to about 10% of their birth weight. This is because there is no longer a direct line of food (the umbilical cord), and they need work for their meals. Because of this, it’s important to offer your breast frequently to help them get back to their birth weight faster, prevent jaundice, and create a robust milk supply. I generally suggest offering the breast every two hours during the day and every three hours at night from when the baby STOPS eating until they START again. This is just until they get back up to their birth weight, usually around two weeks postpartum.
What should I do if my breasts become engorged?
Breast engorgement is when your breasts can become fuller, tender, and firm and can happen a few days postpartum when the volume of milk you are producing increases. The best way to combat engorgement is by putting the baby to the breast frequently. Removing the milk is key in reducing engorgement within the breasts. Using ice packs prior to feedings for about 10 minutes can also help with engorgement. Ice reduces the inflammation within your breasts so that the milk can flow more easily. Additionally, allowing your baby to finish the first breast, before offering the second and not limiting how long they feed can be very helpful. If your baby is struggling to latch due to engorgement, reverse pressure softening can be a quick and easy option to help move swelling away from the nipple and areola so that your baby can latch easier. If your breasts still feel full after a feeding, it’s okay to hand express or pump, but just to comfort. This will help take the edge off until the next feeding, but we don’t want to fully drain those breasts with the pump. This will tell your body that you have two babies you’re trying to feed which can lead to an oversupply which comes with its own host of issues.
How do I get a deep latch?
Start by making sure that your baby is looking up at the breast. Keep your hand low at the base of their ears, not up the back of their head. If babies feel pressure at the back of their head, they may push against you to protect their airway. So just slide those fingers down just a bit. Aim your nipple to their top lip, and let their chin be the first thing that touches your breast. This will trigger a reflex so that they open their mouth nice and wide for a brief second. When they open pull them on nice and snug so that their cheeks are flush against your breast. This will put your nipple further back in their mouth so that the latch should be pain free and it will keep your nipple pores open so that your baby will get nice big squirts of milk every time they suck. If you are having any discomfort, try sliding the baby ever so slightly in the direction of the pain.
How much milk should my baby be eating?
Breastfed babies need a very small amount of milk, especially in the beginning. This is because the quality of your milk changes to meet their nutritional needs! Cool right? This means, on day one they will need about 5-7mls per feeding and by day three they will take about 20-25mls per feeding. By the end of the first week, they will be taking about 1oz (30-45mls) per feeding, by two weeks, about 2oz (60mls) per feeding, three weeks about 3oz per feeding (90mls), and from four weeks on, your little one will be eating about 4-4.5oz per feeding (120mls).
What are some ways I can tell my baby is getting enough?
First and foremost, ensuring that your little one is having adequate diaper outputs is a great way to determine that they are getting enough. Generally, we want them to have one poop and one pee per day of life. Second, would be if they are gaining weight when you are meeting with your healthcare team. Ideally, your baby should gain about 1oz or so per day after day five. And finally, if they are satisfied between nursing sessions. Don’t get me wrong, they may want to spend a lot of time at the breast, but for the most part if they are satisfied after feedings that’s a great sign!
When should I reach out for help?
One thing to keep in mind, is that breastfeeding should never be painful. Slight tenderness may be within the realm of normal, but if you are experiencing true pain, dreading feedings, or have any cracking or chaffing to your nipples, it’s important to reach out to an IBCLC in your area. Additionally, if your infant is struggling with weight gain, not meeting diaper goals, or never seems satisfied after feedings are other good times to seek support. Breastfeeding concerns addressed early, are often met with faster positive outcomes!
*Disclaimer: Any content provided by doulasmilwaukee.com is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for personalized medical advice by your doctor, midwife, or other healthcare professional. Click return to homepage.