More or less?
You may feel as though your breasts are in a re-write of Goldilocks, worrying that you are feeding baby too little or too much but never just enough. Relax Mummy Bear; you are doing your best.
Your milk machines work on a supply and demand basis, so for the first few weeks let baby feed as often as he wants, this is likely to be three or four times for the first few sleepy days after birth increasing as they get over their jet lag.
There is no maximum number of feeds but things usually settle down to six to eight feeds a day after a week or so. Initially your baby will be digesting a feed within a couple of hours, which is why they may seem constantly hungry. As their tummies grow they will stay fuller longer which is why the time between feeds increases.
It is common for babies to lose up to 10 per cent of their birth weight so an initial dip does not mean that your baby is not getting enough milk. Much of this weight loss could be down to intravenous fluids given to you during the last few hours of your labour or birth. At two weeks most babies are back to their birth weight or beyond.
As well as weight gain you can be reassured that your baby is feeding well if they are changing their sucking rhythm as they will have to work harder to get the creamier milk that comes later in a feed. Your breasts will feel softer and less full when they have finished.
What comes out is related to what went in and wet nappies are a good sign! In the first 48 hours after birth you should see two or three wet nappies, this increases to six or more in any 24 hour period from five days old. Too few wet nappies could indicate your baby is dehydrated.
If your baby has to be woken up for feeds, makes clicking noises whilst feeding (rather than contented sucks), or hasn’t re-gained his birth weight by the time he is two weeks old, have a chat with your midwife.
Your breasts will make enough milk for your baby but if they are not latching on properly it will be hard for them to get at, which is why the first few days when you are most worried and you are both most inexperienced, are the hardest. You may find it reassuring to talk to other Mums as this is a very common concern and knowing that it is not just you can be reassuring.
Babies come programmed to like boobs but they are not hardwired to know the difference between night and day. This is a necessity, not a design flaw as their stomachs can’t hold all the milk they need in 12 hours. For the first few months you may feel as though you have a neon sign across your chest flashing ‘always open’ as baby will be placing orders throughout the night!
The good news is the 24 hour café stage only lasts three to six months. Between six and 12 months your baby will begin to manage without night feeds. There isn’t a one size fits all sleep schedule but you can help your baby to learn the difference between day and night by making night feeds as quiet and calm as possible.
Newborns often fall asleep while feeding but by about three months a baby can learn to fall asleep on their own; this is important so that they learn to separate feeding from sleeping. A song or story work well as a buffer between the two. Make sure you wind baby sufficiently after a night feed so that they can settle comfortably into sleep.
Once baby is going longer between feeds, a top up or dream feed might buy you a few more hours sleep. By semi waking baby and feeding them before they wake up independently, you can fill their stomachs before they are woken by an empty one! You will need to wait three or four hours from the last feed otherwise you will be trying to feed a full baby