Does the idea of breast feeding make you nervous? As a new mother, (even if you have had children previously or even if this is your first baby), breastfeeding can be a little daunting at times. Some of the questions asked frequently by many new or soon to be new mothers are: how do I know my baby is getting enough milk, how often should I feed him, how do I know if my milk has arrived, and should I wake my baby for a feed?
Lets list some answers to these questions to reassure you.
How will I know when my milk is here?
Your milk is present even before your baby is born; it’s just not quite recognizable as such before you get the full flow. This milk is a thin liquid which is known as colostrum. Colostrum is concentrated and contains all the necessary nutrients and helps give your baby a natural immune system. Mother Nature is a wonderful thing, and she has ensured that for the first few days until your milk comes in, your baby is well nourished with what you are providing. Eventually over a few days, you will gradually notice a tightening in your breasts, which can only be relieved by you baby suckling.
At first until your body adjusts to the needs of your baby, you’ll probably notice some engorgement which may be slightly painful. However this is soon relieved by your baby feeding. Most breast fed babies like to be fed more often than those who are fed via bottle. This is because breast milk is lighter than formula and is digested much more easily. Expect to feed your baby on the breast every 2-3 hours. This is not a hard and fast rule, some babies are hungrier than others so may need feeding more often. Other babies may go slightly longer.
How do I know my baby is getting enough?
Your baby will tell you. If he is hungry he will soon tell you by crying, and it won’t be long before you can distinguish which of his crys means he is hungry, wet or just wants a cuddle!
Also keep an eye on his weight, if he’s gaining a few ounces per week, he’s obviously getting enough, and they best ways of monitoring this is to take him to the baby clinic. Also keep a check on his diaper, if they are nice and wet and there is plenty of soiling you can be assured they are getting enough.
Should I wake my baby for feeding?
You may find you need to waken your baby to feed them on occasion, especially if he is not having 8 feeds within a 24 hour period. New babies tend to sleep a lot and sometimes become so comfortable and cosy they don’t waken when they should for a feed. One of the dangers here though is letting your baby sleep all day and then finding they are more alert at night. Its important that a pattern is set. Little tricks such as changing your babies diaper is a good way of waking them (without making you feel guilty). If you find they are missing a lot of feeds, it may be a good idea to have a chat with your health visitor or doctor.