When you are about to feed your baby, make sure you and your baby are in a position that makes it easy to breastfeed. Mothers and babies can breastfeed in many different positions. At first, you may find you are more comfortable in a certain position like sitting back in a favourite chair or lying in your bed. As you and your baby become breastfeeding experts, you will be able to feed your baby anywhere, while walking, carrying him in a carrier, or sitting at the table.
Whichever position you like to use (laid back breastfeeding, sitting up or lying down), your baby should be in a position that allows for a deep latch and easy swallowing. Here are a few points to keep in mind:
Watch this video from Peel Public Health on different Breastfeeding Positions.
Adapted with permission from the Best Start Resource Centre.
A deep latch is very important because it lets your baby get milk easily without hurting your nipples or breasts. Your baby will take the whole or most of the darker or pink area around your nipple (your areola) into his mouth. That helps him “milk” the breast and will not hurt your nipple.
You don’t need to push your baby onto your breast. In fact, babies don’t like getting pushed and may push back against your hand. This can make you think your baby does not want to feed. If your baby fusses and doesn’t latch on, try these things:
Watch this video from Peel Public Health on The Latch.
You may also find the Dr. Jack Newman Breastfeeding Videos helpful as well.
If you are unable to latch your baby, ask for help right away. See Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey and Bruce.
While your baby is nursing you will know your baby is latched on well if these things are happening:
When your baby is finished nursing:
How often should I be breastfeeding and for how long?
Most newborn babies feed at least 8 times in 24 hours. Breastfeeding provides food for your baby to grow and develop. It is also comforting and helps you and your baby develop a close emotional connection.
Some babies feed regularly and establish a routine quickly. Others like to have short feeds very often, especially in the evening or at night. This is called cluster feeding. It is very common in the first few weeks.
Feed your baby whenever he shows feeding cues. Feed him as long as he wants to feed. When he stops feeding on the first breast, burp him and offer the second breast. This will ensure you have a good milk supply as your baby grows. Some babies feed for 20 minutes, others take much longer.
You do not need to time his feeds or worry about him as long as your baby:
Remember: Watch your baby, not the clock!
As babies get older they may change how long or how often they feed. Follow your baby’s cues. Your baby knows when he is hungry and when he is full.
Whenever your baby wants to feed, start with the breast that your baby did not feed from. If he fed from both breasts, start with the breast from which your baby fed last. Let your baby feed as long as he is interested.
Switch to the other breast:
Some newborn babies fall asleep easily while they are feeding.
To encourage your baby to keep feeding until he is full, you can use breast compressions. If your baby falls asleep after only a few minutes at the breast, compress your breast behind the areola to help your milk to flow. Do not squeeze so hard that it hurts.
This will help your baby start sucking again. You can do this throughout the feeding or at the end of the feeding when your baby starts to get sleepy.
Watch this video from Dr. Jack Newman on breast compressions.
For more information about breast compressions, go to the International Breastfeeding Centre website.
These are signs that your baby is getting enough milk.
To make sure your baby is getting enough milk during the first week, keep track of the number of wet and dirty diapers in a 24 hour period.
In the beginning, it can be hard for new parents to know if their baby has a wet diaper. A very wet diaper is heavier than a dry diaper.
If you want to know what a very wet diaper feels like, pour 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of water on a dry diaper. Your baby’s urine (pee) should be clear or pale yellow, and it should have no smell.
If a dirty diaper is heavy, count it as both a wet diaper and a stool.
Babies lose an average of 7% of their birth weight in the first 3 days after birth. For example, a 7 pound baby will lose about 230 grams or ½ a pound.
From day 4 onward your baby should gain 20 – 35 g (2/3 – 1 1/3 oz) per day and regain his birth weight by 10 – 14 days. During the first 3 – 4 months your baby should continue to gain 20 – 35 g (2/3 –1 1/3 oz) per day. If your baby is not gaining enough, wake your baby for more feedings, and get help to make sure your baby is feeding well. Always breastfeed your baby when he seems hungry.
Up to about 3 weeks of age, breastfed babies should have 3 or more large, soft, seedy stools per day. If your baby does not have 3 or more stools per day under 3 weeks of age, take your baby to see her health care provider and see Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey Bruce.
Around one month of age, some babies will have only 1 – 2 stools per day. Some have one large stool every few days. This is normal as long as your baby is feeding well, seems content and his stools are soft. If your baby is not feeding well, is more fussy than usual or has not had a stool in more than a week, take your baby see his health care provider and see Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey Bruce.
If your baby does not have enough wet and dirty diapers, get help right away. Take your baby to see his health care provider and see Breastfeeding Help and Support in Grey Bruce.
Your baby needs to feed often, because her stomach is small and breastmilk is digested easily. When your baby is born, her stomach is about the size of a cherry and holds about 5-7 ml. By day 3, your baby’s stomach increases to about the size of a walnut and holds about 22-27 ml. Around 7 days old, your baby’s stomach is about the size of an egg and holds about 60 ml. See the chart on page 22 of Breastfeeding Matters from the Best Start Resource Centre for more information.
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