Breastfeeding is a special gift that only you can give your baby, but there is a lot to learn. Breastfeeding is a natural process but it does not always come naturally and may take some time to get the hang of it.
Look for hunger cues
Understanding hunger cues will be extremely important in knowing if your baby is actually hungry as well as monitoring feeding times/diaper output. Babies can be fussy for many other reasons besides hunger. Signs a baby is actually hungry can include bringing hands to their face, rooting, making sucking noises, sucking their hands or fingers, and clenching of the fists/arms. Crying is a late hunger cue, so it is important to feed during early cues.
Get into nursing position
Cross cradle, side lying, and football hold are three great positions to start with when working on getting the hang on things. Some more advanced holds are upright nursing, laid back nursing, nursing in a carrier, and rugby hold. Check out our graphic on positions to see how to perform each hold. Make sure to have your phone, a drink, a snack, and anything you may want for up to 30 minutes nearby so you are prepared for your nursing session.
Encourage a good latch
First sign of a good latch is a comfortable, pain free latch. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable in the first 30 seconds, but after then should not be painful. You also want to make sure your baby’s chest and stomach rest against your body so that your baby’s head is straight. You want your baby’s chin to touch your breast and your baby’s mouth should open wide around the breast, not just the nipple. You should also see and hear baby swallowing. Seeing that baby is growing and satisfied is also indicative of a good latch.
It is recommended to breastfeed on demand and follow babies cues, but this should equate to 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. Breast milk is easily digested so newborns are hungry often. It is also important for frequent feedings to stimulate your milk production in the beginning. As babies get older they will start to go closer to 2-3 hours between feedings. Newborns should not go more than 4 hours including overnight feedings. You want to count the length of time between feedings from the time your baby begins to nurse to when the baby begins to nurse again.
Understanding the length of a nursing session
During the newborn period a nursing session should last between 20-40 minutes. Newborns are extra sleepy so sometimes the extra time is needed along with a lot of patience. As your baby gets older and more proficient an average session should last 15-30 minutes.
Understanding if your baby is getting enough milk
Breast milk is alive so it changes its properties to meet baby’s needs so you do not need to change the amount of milk from 2 weeks on. During the first two weeks your baby will get less because of their stomach size. From 2 weeks on, the baby will take 1-1.25 ounce an hour. See our stomach sizing chart to better understand. Check output, consider weight gain, and is your baby content and growing. See our diaper guide to see if your baby is having enough output. Whatever goes in must come out. Baby should have at least 6 wet diapers in a 24 hour period by day 6 of life. Next you can do a weighted feed where you weigh the baby, nurse and then weight your baby again. The difference between the weights is approximately how much your baby transferred. Checking to see if your baby is growing appropriately and content is also another way to see if you are making enough milk. Your baby should reach birth weight by 2 weeks and double birth weight by 6 months. This should be about 4-8 ounces weight gain a week. If you have any further concerns please reach out for an appointment.
With all of this information sometimes it can still be difficult, but that is why we offer lactation appointments, book yours today if you still need further assistance.