Whether this is your first child or your seventh, sometimes breastfeeding can seem a bit frightening. Some of the questions new mothers ask are “how do I know my baby is getting enough milk,” “how do I know if my milk has come in,” “how often should I feed him,” and, “should I wake my baby up to feed her?”
Let’s discuss the answers to these questions.
How will I know when my milk is already here? Your milk is present even before your baby is born; it’s simply not yet recognizable as such. This milk is a thin liquid popularly known as colostrum. Colostrum is very concentrated and contains all of the necessary nutrients your baby requires to boost his immune system. Mother Nature is a wonderful thing, ensuring that, for the first few days until your milk naturally comes in, your baby will be well nourished. Eventually, over the course of a few days, you will notice a tightening in your breasts that is only relieved by letting your baby to suckle at the breast.
Until your body adapts to the needs of your baby, your breasts may become engorged (hard and swollen) and sore. This is simply relieved by your feeding your baby. Often, breast fed babies like to be fed more than those who are formula-fed. This is because breast milk is thinner than formula milk, and is digested much more easily. In fact, if you are breastfeeding, expect to feed your baby every 2-3 hours. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Some infants get hungry more frequently than others, other babies may go slightly longer between feedings.
How do I know if my baby is eating enough?
Of course, your baby will let you know. So, if she is hungry, she’ll tell you by crying. It won’t be long before you can distinguish which cry means she needs a diaper change, is hungry or just wants a cuddle!
Another way to determine if she’s getting enough is to keep an eye on her weight. If she’s gaining several ounces a week, she’s obviously getting enough. The best step to monitor this is to take her to the pediatrician.
Keep checking her diapers too. If they are nice and wet and she soils them regularly, you can be assured she is getting enough.
Should I wake my baby up for a feeding?
You may occasionally have to wake your baby up to feed her, particularly if she is not already eating eight times within a 24 hour period. New babies seem to sleep a lot, and sometimes become so comfortable that they don’t wake when its time to eat. If you allow your baby sleep through too many feedings during the day, she may decide to stay awake all night! It’s essential to set a pattern. Little techniques, like changing your baby’s diaper, are a good way of waking them (without making you feel guilty). If your baby misses a lot of feedings, it might be a good idea to discuss with your doctor about it. He or she will let you know if your baby is doing fine.
Breastfeeding is, in fact, nothing to be nervous about. Women, after all, have been breastfeeding babies for millennia. If you are still nervous, or have any questions, don’t be afraid to discuss with your doctor or to a lactation consultant.
Filed under: Pregnancy