Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Often To Nurse a Newborn

The first time I held my baby to breastfeed, I was sooooo worried. The nurse just plopped her in my arms and reminded me to switch breast after 15-20 minutes. I stared at her blankly and asked "how do I do this?" She wasn't very helpful and didn't show me how to get baby to latch on properly. Anyway, I had tried to read as much as I could before baby popped and eventually figured it out.

Many new mothers have been told to breastfeed their baby every 2-3 hours. However, you'll soon find out that newborns have a schedule of their own -- which is no schedule. The first few weeks, you may feel like baby is almost attached to you the whole day because they are constantly crying to be fed.

A common question among new nursing mothers is "should I follow the clock or should I feed on demand?"

Here is some points to answer that question and also to resove some concerns you may have.
  • Forget the clock. Feed on demand. During those first few weeks, you need to build up your milk supply.

  • Don't worry about fitting into a 2-3 hour schedule those early days. Follow baby's needs and eventually, baby and you will naturally fall into a schedule. This will happen when baby is a couple of months old.

  • Don't forget that baby will go through a growth spurt. So don't hold back on the milk.

  • A newborn's stomach is very small...imagine a walnut. That means they get full quickly. Plus, breastmilk is easily digestable. Hence the reason why they are hungry again so fast.

  • Not all babies are the same. Some will nurse more often than others.

  • Don't worry too much about over-feeding baby (unless baby have GERD). Be more worried of not feeding enough.

  • Don't assume that doctors and nurses know a lot about breastfeeding. You want expert advice, find a lactation consultant or your local La Leche League.

  • They will tell you to count the number of wet diapers to determine if baby is getting enough milk. I never really bothered much with this advice because you can't really tell how many times baby has peed when using disposables. Me, I get my peace of mind when baby is gaining weight as should and there are no signs of dehydration.

  • To wake the baby or not to wake the baby? I say let baby sleep. My friend told me this, "baby grows in 2 ways: drinking milk and sleeping". So don't think that sleep is bad for your baby. Take advantage of that time. Be thankful you have been given time to rest.
  • If your baby sleeps pretty well at night, you may find they feed more often in the day. Some mothers do cluster feeding. Feeding time could be every hour and maybe even every 20 minutes (gosh).

  • If baby sleeps after 5 minutes of nursing, tickle their cheek or under the chin. Do whatever to keep them awake. Initial sucking gets them colustrum. Further sucking will get them hind milk which is what they need to fill their hunger. If they don't get the hind milk, they'll remain hungry.

  • I know it gets very tiring to sit down and nurse the whole day. Who said you had to sit down? The best thing I learned was to feed baby lying down. I did that with baby #2 onwards and got so much rest that way.
I hope you found these tips useful.
Happy breastfeeding!

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