First Hour – First few days
How Often Should I feed my Newborn? Ideally, you should start breastfeeding within the first hour of your baby’s life. It’s beneficial to place your newborn in direct skin-to-skin contact with you, which means having your baby lie on your bare chest. This position not only helps initiate breastfeeding but also helps your baby regulate their body temperature and naturally seek your breast. For more information on the benefits of skin-to-skin contact, please refer to our detailed article on the topic.
If there are no significant medical interventions, it’s typical for newborns to breastfeed at least eight to twelve times in their first 24 hours. This frequency of nursing, without any supplemental feeding, usually results in the baby urinating about three times and passing stools about three to four times. However, these numbers can vary. The presence of one to two wet diapers and stools in this timeframe is generally a positive sign of effective breastfeeding.
During each feeding in the first day, your baby will consume small quantities of colostrum. Colostrum, often referred to as the ‘first milk,’ is a thick, yellowish or orangish substance. The amount can range from mere drops to about 5 milliliters (roughly a teaspoon) per feeding. Despite its small volume, colostrum is incredibly vital for kickstarting your baby’s digestive system. It’s packed with antibodies and other immune-boosting elements, providing your newborn with protection against various diseases they are now exposed to.
The modest amount of colostrum in the initial feedings is beneficial as it allows your baby to learn how to swallow, breathe, and suckle simultaneously. As your baby becomes more efficient at breastfeeding, they stimulate your body to produce more colostrum.
Colostrum serves a crucial role in cleansing your baby’s digestive tract of meconium and aids in the elimination of excess bilirubin, which is linked to jaundice. Thus, colostrum is a significant preventive measure against jaundice. Colostrum’s high concentration of nutrition and ease of digestion also prime your baby’s digestive system for processing more mature milk and help in stabilizing their glucose levels, preventing hypoglycemia.
These initial feedings are essential in triggering the second stage of lactogenesis in your body, leading to the production of milk. Over the subsequent days to a couple of weeks, you will notice the colostrum gradually transitioning to milk. This change is evident as the fluid expressed changes from a yellow or orange color to a whiter or whitish-blue hue, indicating that your baby is consuming more and your body is producing more mature milk.
From the second day after birth, aim to breastfeed your baby about 8 to 12 times over a 24-hour period, which includes both daytime and nighttime feedings. This frequent nursing is crucial for several reasons:
- Stimulating Milk Production: Regular nursing in these early days is key to establishing a robust milk supply.
- Baby’s Weight Gain: Frequent feedings help your baby regain the weight they naturally lose after birth.
- Preventing and Treating Jaundice: Nursing often can also protect against jaundice, a common condition in newborns.
This recommendation to nurse 8 to 12 times in 24 hours is supported by extensive research and endorsed by major health organizations like the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), in the UK.
For an effective routine, you might consider nursing your baby every one and a half to two hours during the day and at least every three hours at night. This schedule not only helps in establishing your milk supply but also ensures that your baby receives enough nourishment to stimulate healthy weight gain. In fact, with frequent and effective nursing in the first week, you can expect your milk production to increase significantly, sometimes even ten to twenty times more than initially.
By maintaining this pattern of frequent nursing during the first few days, you’ll be setting a solid foundation for successful breastfeeding.
Should I put my baby on a schedule? Will I spoiled my baby by feeding on demand and carrying too much?
Regarding whether you should put your baby on a feeding schedule, especially when exclusively nursing, it’s generally advised against, particularly in the first six weeks. Scheduling feedings during this period has been linked to slower weight gain in babies. Additionally, adhering to a strict feeding schedule can lead to early weaning. This is because scheduled feedings can reduce milk production; when nursing is delayed or postponed to fit a schedule, it can cause engorgement, signaling the body to reduce milk production. These reductions can then lead to the need for supplementation and potentially early weaning.
It’s important to understand that babies, particularly newborns, are very sleepy in the first 24 to 48 hours after birth. While it was once common practice to wake babies frequently for feedings during these initial days, recent research suggests that this could actually contribute to greater weight loss. This is particularly true if you experienced interventions such as IV fluids during labor. However, if your baby continues to be excessively sleepy beyond the first 48 hours, it’s advisable to wake them for feedings and perhaps seek medical advice to ensure they are feeding effectively.
To understand when your baby is hungry without relying on a schedule, it’s crucial to become attuned to their hunger cues. Babies communicate their hunger in various ways, and these cues become more pronounced as they get hungrier. Early signs of hunger include subtle movements like fluttering eyelids, mouth movements, and bringing hands to their mouth. As they become more distressed, these cues become more obvious, like whimpering or crying. Responding to these early signs makes it easier to feed your baby, as they are calmer and can latch on more easily.
In the first week after birth, the capacity of your baby’s stomach will gradually increase, necessitating more milk. Initially, their stomach can hold only about 30 to 60 milliliters (ml) per feeding. By the fourth day, they might need between approximately 295 and 590 milliliters of milk per day. It’s important to keep in mind that your baby’s stomach is still quite small and empties quickly since breast milk is easily digestible. As a result, your baby may feel hungry again soon after being fed.
Rather than sticking to a rigid schedule, observe and respond to your baby’s natural hunger cues. This approach will help ensure that your baby is fed adequately and is gaining weight appropriately.
After the first week
In the initial weeks following birth, it is important to breastfeed your baby whenever they show signs of hunger. As they grow, their nutritional requirements will increase. During the first month to six weeks, your body is typically working towards establishing full milk production. Research has indicated that the volume of milk a baby consumes increases most significantly in the first three weeks of life. By responding to your baby’s hunger signals and nursing them accordingly, you will help boost your milk production to adequately meet their needs.
It’s quite common for babies to have periods when they want to nurse more frequently. These are often referred to as “growth spurts” or “wonder weeks.” During these times, the increased frequency of feeding will encourage your body to produce more milk, and the act of nursing generally helps to soothe your baby.
By the time your baby is two to three weeks old, they will typically consume about 60 to 90 milliliters (ml) of milk per feeding, amounting to approximately 445 to 740 milliliters daily. After the first three weeks, your baby’s rate of consuming milk might slow down slightly, but their overall intake will still continue to increase gradually over the following weeks.
Towards the end of the first month, a baby usually intake is approximately 570 to 900 milliliters. This variation is normal and depends on the individual needs and growth patterns of each baby. It’s important to note that some babies may consume less and others more, and both can fall within the normal range. This amount includes feedings during the night. Recent studies have shown that many babies nurse most frequently between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., taking in approximately 20% of their total daily caloric needs during these hours. Over a 24-hour period, a baby aged between one and six months typically consumes around 90 to 150 milliliters per feeding, though this can vary depending on the time of day.
How often should I feed after my milk as established?
Once your milk supply is well established, the frequency of breastfeeding can vary widely, as each baby and nursing parent is unique. Some mothers have a larger milk storage capacity, which means their baby might consume more milk in a single session and therefore need fewer feedings throughout the day. On average, exclusively breastfed infants typically nurse about 8 times a day, though this can range anywhere from 4 to 13 sessions daily. It’s important to note that some babies feed quickly and efficiently, while others may take their time with each feeding.
As your baby grows and becomes more efficient at nursing, you might notice a decrease in the frequency of feedings. This change is a natural response to your baby’s growing abilities and your body’s adaptation to their needs. The key is to let your baby guide you. Unlike a clock, your baby can indicate when they’re hungry, thirsty, or simply in need of closeness and comfort. Nursing is more than just a means of providing nourishment; it’s a nurturing and bonding experience that fulfills both physical and emotional needs.
Breastfeeding is a dynamic interaction between you and your baby. It’s not just about feeding; it’s about engaging in a two-way communication that includes physical, biochemical, hormonal, and psychosocial exchanges. Through breastfeeding, you’re not only feeding and hydrating your baby but also building a deep emotional bond. You’re teaching your baby about relationships, sending them important immunological components, and contributing to their brain development. This unique relationship is beneficial for both of you, helping your body become more resistant to diseases and supporting your baby’s overall growth and development.
Is Night Feeding Important? I am so tired.
Yes, night nursing is indeed an important aspect of breastfeeding for several reasons. It plays a vital role in building your milk supply, fostering the breastfeeding relationship, and supporting your baby’s proper weight gain. Night feeding is a normal behavior for all newborns, regardless of whether they are breastfed or formula-fed, and whether or not they have started on solids.
Studies, including one that observed over 700 babies aged between six and twelve months, found that nearly 80% of these infants woke up at least once during the night. This pattern was consistent among both breastfed and formula-fed babies, highlighting that night awakening is a common and normal part of infant development, not necessarily influenced by the type of feeding.
There are several reasons why young babies wake up during the night. One of them is the digestion of human milk, which is typically digested in about 1.5 hours due to its composition that is easy to digest and gentle on the baby’s kidneys. Research has shown that, especially in the early weeks and months, many babies nurse most frequently between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., taking in about 20% of their total daily caloric needs during these hours. However, this stage of frequent night nursing doesn’t last indefinitely.
Additionally, the research indicates that the type of food (breast milk or formula) or the introduction of solid foods doesn’t significantly alter a baby’s patterns of waking up at night. These patterns are more related to the developmental stage of the baby rather than their diet.
As babies grow older, they tend to wake up less often at night and require fewer night feedings. Interestingly, studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers and their partners often get more (about 45 minutes more per night) and better quality sleep (more deep sleep) compared to those who formula-feed.
While many parents wish for their babies to sleep through the night, this is quite rare and could even be risky for younger babies. Some research related to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) suggests that infants who are more easily arousable may have increased protection from SIDS. Breastfeeding has been found to be a significant factor in protecting against SIDS, with exclusive breastfeeding offering an increased protective effect.
By breastfeeding your baby, including at night, you are providing them with the best start in life. Night nursing is an integral part of this nurturing process, though it can sometimes be challenging. Remember, you are not just feeding your baby but also offering comfort, security, and a strong foundation for their healthy development!
What can I do to make this sweeter?
Incorporating SLB as a part of your nighttime routine can be incredibly beneficial, especially for breastfeeding mothers. These lactation bakes are not just a delightful treat but are designed to support your milk supply, which is particularly crucial during night feedings.
SLB lactation bakes are typically crafted with ingredients known to promote lactation, such as oats, flaxseed, and brewer’s yeast. These ingredients not only nourish you but can also help in enhancing the quality and quantity of your breast milk. Enjoying these bakes as a part of your nighttime routine can provide a dual benefit – they can be a comforting snack during late-night nursing sessions and may also assist in maintaining a healthy milk supply.
Having SLB lactation bakes as a nighttime companion can add a comforting ritual to your breastfeeding journey. They not only provide nutritional support but also offer a moment of indulgence for you, which can be incredibly important during the demanding postpartum period.
Remember, while lactation bakes can be a supportive element, the core of night feeding’s importance remains in its role in building and maintaining your milk supply, ensuring your baby’s proper growth and development, and strengthening the unique bond between you and your baby. Adding SLB lactation bakes to this routine can enhance this nurturing experience, making it even more rewarding.
The journey of breastfeeding is a unique and enriching experience for both mother and baby. The importance of responding to your baby’s hunger cues, particularly through night feedings, plays a pivotal role in ensuring a healthy milk supply. Facilitating the physical and emotional development of your infant.
The incorporation of SLB lactation bakes into this journey offers a nourishing and enjoyable supplement that supports lactation. These bakes, crafted with ingredients known to aid milk production, provide a practical and delightful way for mothers to nourish themselves while catering to their babies’ needs. Breastfeeding, as a journey, is as much about building a deep bond with your baby as it is about nourishment. It’s a period where each feeding moment becomes an opportunity for growth, love, and connection.
Joanna Goy, IBCLC