The Amount and Schedule of Breastfeeding for a Newborn
Can you overfeed a newborn breastfeeding? Can you have a routine when breastfeeding?
From the time they are born, babies are most always hungry. Therefore, don’t be surprised when your baby is at your breast ready to be feed only 30 minutes after birth. For new moms, the question is usually about the next time to feed. Setting a breastfeeding schedule can get overwhelming and moms will more often than not get surprised at how frequently their babies need to eat. While setting a breastfeeding schedule is okay, moms should learn the feeding and satiation cues of a baby and be led by the baby’s cues.
During the first month, a baby will eat anywhere from 8 to 12 times in a day. Every baby is different. The most important thing is to identify early cues of signifying hunger such as:
- Sometimes, crying may not necessarily indicate hunger
- Tongue movement in the mouth. This includes lip-smacking and tongue-smacking
- Opening the mouth wide while turning the face towards something that he or she is touching
- Clenching the fists and bending arms and bringing them near the face or mouth
The frequency of the feedings is about every one and half hours within 24 hours, especially for the first few weeks.
The length of each feeding will vary from person to person. There are some babies who can spend five minutes on each breast while other babies will take 20 to 30 minutes on one breast.
If you notice that your baby is taking a longer time than this, then you might need to see a doctor or lactation consultant. Feedings that last more than 40 minutes repeatedly usually indicate that there is an issue with the milk supply or the baby’s suckling skills. When it comes to breastfeeding, never wait for your baby to start crying before you feed them. Crying is usually a late indicator of hunger.
As the baby feeds, you must also be aware of satiation cues like:
- The arms and hands gradually relaxing throughout the feeding
- The baby stops rooting and showing signs of hunger
How much milk is enough?
Weight gain and frequent diaper changes are usually the indicators used to check if your baby is getting enough milk. The first few days, a newborn will have similar patterns in pee output. This makes it easier for you to track how they are doing. But as they continue to grow, the numbers of pees and poops increase.
At day one, your baby should have one of each and this should continue to increase as the days go by to a point of six urinations a day. You should use a diaper and feeding log to note feedings and output for the first two weeks.
Avoid switching breasts mid-feeding because you risk giving your baby foremilk and no hind milk while the latter is the most nutritious and important. Continue to feed your baby until your breast is fully drained and then turn to the other breast for the next feeding.
Generally, be attentive to your child’s cues and respond to their schedule, not yours. Be flexible rather than expecting your baby to adapt to your schedule.
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