COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED:
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I FEED MY BABY?
Babies should be fed on demand. You should not put unrealistic expectations on yourself or your new-born baby by trying to put them in strict feeding routines
It takes 6 weeks for your breast milk to be established, thereafter baby will be more ready to get into a routine.
Most babies can last about 2 1/2hrs between feeds. Don’t try to put him in an unrealistic 4hr routine as you may end up with an underfed, unhappy baby. Each breastfeeding experience is unique. No book or person can tell you how often or how long to feed for. The best person to listen to is your baby.
Babies are very clever as they will ask for the right amount of feeds over a 24hr period.
However, they may get their days and nights muddled, for example sleeping all day and feeding all night.
Therefore, I encourage feeding your new baby on demand, feeding her as often as she wants but not letting her go longer than 3hrs between feeds during the day and wake her if necessary.
In the evening, if not medically contra-indicated, do not wake her to feed, but only feed when she wakes. I encourage lots of feeds during the day and less at night, so hopefully getting your baby sleeping through as soon as possible. I encourage babies to be sleeping through the night by 3-4 months.
Most importantly listen to your baby. Never think it’s not time to feed. Never think you are overfeeding. 90% of the time when a new-born is crying and everyone says colic, reflux etc. YOUR BABY IS JUST HUNGRY, SO FEED, FEED, FEED.
WHEN SHOULD I DO MY FIRST FEED?
If one has natural birth and you are able to have skin to skin with your baby. She will go through the 9 instinctive stages and start rooting for the breast about 45min after birth.
If one has a C/S depending on your hospitals policy.
Some units encourage skin to skin in theatre, hence feeding can commence about 45 min after delivery. However, some hospitals like to get baby into the incubator as soon as possible to warm them up. You may then get to feed a couple of hours later back in the ward.
Remember babies are normally not very hungry in the first 24hrs as they have an extra 30% of fluid in their bodies. So don’t be surprised if baby is not too enthusiastic to feed in the first couple of days.
For the first 3 to 4 days after delivery your breasts will produce small quantities of colostrum which is sticky yellowish in colour and highly nutritious. This is what your baby will drink for the first few days. Remember baby only needs around 1-2tsp per feed, so it is quality not quantity that she requires.
If battling to latch your baby, ask the staff for help or call in a lactation specialist.
HOW LONG SHOULD A FEED TAKE
You and your baby are unique. No one is able to tell you how long you must feed for. One mother may produce an abundance of breast milk and she may have a baby that feeds like a Barracuda that drains the breast quickly, and may get a full feed in 5-10 minutes. Another mother may have a lower milk supply and a little gourmet, slow feeding baby that needs to take 45 min to complete a feed.
As a guide line I encourage feeding on both breasts per feed, in order to stimulate milk production. I encourage feeding around 10min on the first breast and as little or as much as he wants on the opposite breast. You will know when he has had enough, as he may stop drinking, spit you out or fall off to sleep.
Remember for the first 6 weeks breastfeeding is very inconsistent. Some days your baby may be sleepy and feeding every 3hrs at 10 minutes a time, and other days he may seem constantly hungry and feed every hour for 45min at a time and maybe even wants snacks in between. This is fine so try not comparing to others.
The only way you can know if your baby is getting enough is by weighing him on the same scale regularly. I encourage weekly weighing for the first 6 weeks. On average your baby should be putting on around 20-35 grams a day.
Your baby should have at least 5 wet nappies a day. If not please contact your clinic or doctor.
HOW OFTEN WILL MY BABY POO?
A breasted baby can pass a stool after every feed or as little as one every 10 days. If you baby has not passed a stool in 7 days I recommend having your baby weighed, as your baby may not be getting enough food. Your baby’s poo may be mustard yellow in colour or even a little green, and while being exclusively breastfed will be very runny in consistency. Try not worry too much about the color of your babies stool.
However, if the stool is white or has blood in it then contact your clinic or doctor.
HOW MANY WEEKS , MONTHS OR YEARS SHOULD I BREASTFEED FOR?
The WHO (World Health Organization) encourages breastfeeding for 4 years. However this is often not realistic for a mom. So, I say don’t put a time factor on your feeding journey. Remember each day is a day well done.
What can I do with my engorged breasts?
From day 3-5 after delivery the colostrum that our baby has been drinking starts changing in constancy to being runnier and no longer sticky. The colour will change from yellow to white. This may be referred to as the coming in of your breast milk.
For some women the change from colostrum to breast milk can be a gentle, easy process. Where for others it may become uncomfortable as the breasts fill up very quickly and the breasts become hard and hot.
Too try to prevent engorgement I recommend not to overload on too many liquids in the first few days, only drink as much as your body is asking for.
The best way to relieve engorgement is by feeding your baby often. Don’t let her go longer than 3hrs between her feeds and more often if she wants. You may also try having a warm bath or shower and gently massage your breasts to get the milk flowing. If the breast is so hard that your baby is battling to latch try using a nipple shield for a couple of feeds until the breast softens making it easier for baby to latch.
Do not use a breast pump as it it will only make the engorgement worse.
Cold cabbage leaves placed in the bra directly on the breast will help absorb heat giving you some comfort.
You may also try using some gel icepacks for relief.
Remember your breasts will only be engorged for a couple of days, then soften, so hang in there as it really is worth it.
MOST IMPORTANTLY FEED, FEED AND FEED SOME MORE.
TENDER CRACKED NIPPLES
Most importantly let’s prevent your nipples becoming cracked. It’s all about the latch!
Ask your midwife to check your latching technique; if baby is latched correctly from the beginning your nipples should not become cracked. Secondly don’t let baby use your nipples as a dummy. If baby stops the munching motion on the breast and starts doing what I call butterfly kisses, then take him off as he is using you as a dummy.
Preparation of the nipples is not necessary, just keep them well moisturized and if producing any colostrum during pregnancy, massage into the nipple.
If the nipple does become cracked , then use one of the nipple creams available at your pharmacy. You may also use an infrared lamp for a few minutes a couple of times a day. Most hospitals also offer a service doing laser treatments on the nipples aiding in healing. Try not rub your nipples with a towel, rather use your hairdryer after a bath to dry them. Place a soft breast pad in your bra so that your nipple is not rubbing against your bra. The use of a breast shell works very effectively, allowing your nipples to air without anything rubbing against them.
Please don’t be tempted to give up on your breast feeding, rather ask for help from your clinic or midwife.
Breast feeding can be a challenge and many women may not enjoy it . But we know there is no better start we can give our babies in life.
Ode to a nursing mother
For baby and me I know nursing is best
But I feel like my life is controlled by my breasts
I have no idea where my sex life has been
Cause when I want to do it, my milk comes in
I have nursed my baby everywhere
From clothing stores to the dentist chair
When I use my pump I feel like a cow
And when my baby wants to nurse,
he wants to nurse now
Just as I think it’s time for a rest
Baby is back at it wanting the breast
I’ll admit there are times when I want to scream
And I pray for the time my baby is weaned
I’m engorged, I am tired, my nipples are sore
During the growth spurts I cry, I can’t take it any more
Then there are times when my baby is at the breast
When he actually calms me
And I get rid of my stress
These are the times we nursing moms treasure
When nurturing our babies brings us such pleasure
So when someone sees you nursing and asks you why
The following words should be part of your reply
For baby and me I know nursing is best
And life is not so bad when controlled by my breast