Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How often will my baby breastfeed?

The answer is very frequently! A newborn’s stomach will only hold 5-7ml (5ml is one teaspoon). By day 3 of life a newborn’s stomach will hold up to 26ml (30ml is one ounce) and by day 10 it holds about 60ml which is 2 ounces. A newborn needs to eat very frequently due to the size of their stomach and the digestibility of breast milk. A newborn is able to easily digest and use almost all of the components of breast milk as opposed to artificial baby milk (formula) which is much harder for infants to digest. It is recommended that newborns breastfeed 8-12 times in 24 hours. The important aspect of this is that they need to feed frequently around the clock, but not necessarily for a certain length of time. Try to watch your baby and not the clock.
New mothers are often faced with the nagging question, “How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?” In America we are very used to being able to see and measure everything we do. These are signs to look for in a newborn to know if they are getting enough milk without actually measuring the milk intake.
·         Baby breastfeeds 8-12 times in 24 hours.
·         You can hear baby swallowing during feedings.
·         Baby is alert and active at times throughout the day.
·         Baby is content and possibly asleep after feeding.
·         Baby may lose 7-10% of birth weight, but should regain this by 2 weeks.
·         Baby is having 4 stools and 6 wet diapers per day by day 7 of life. This gradually increases from day 1.
I have heard people say “I have such a good baby, she sleeps all the time.” If a newborn baby is truly sleeping all the time and not waking up to feed approximately every 2 hours, this can mean that they are not getting enough milk and to preserve calories they sleep more.
In my post earlier this week I mentioned pacifier use. As a new mom, be prepared to do a lot of breastfeeding during the first two weeks of your baby’s life. Take this opportunity to rest and recover and let others help you with meals, laundry, housework, etc. A mother’s milk supply is established during those first two weeks, so it is very important to allow the baby to feed frequently and not try to “hold them off” with a pacifier. Remember, your newborn is used to continuously swallowing amniotic fluid, so it is a big change for them to only eat every 1 ½-2hours. Pacifier use during the first two weeks can interfere with a mother’s milk supply and prevent a baby from taking in enough calories. A pacifier may be used for a few minutes to calm a fussy baby, but should not be used for long periods of time during those first two weeks, until mom has a good supply and breastfeeding is going really well.
In summary, just because your baby feeds frequently, it does not mean that you don’t have enough milk. The more often you breastfeed, the more milk you will make. Hang in there; babies won’t breastfeed every 2 hours forever! As they grow, they can gradually go longer between feedings.
As always, contact your local Lactation Consultant if you have any questions.

By Alicia Fonder, RN, CLC, LCCE, CHBE

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