How often should I breastfeed my newborn?
[Image Credit: @wildephotographyy]
The frequency of feeds can be such a hot topic for new parents and can be quite stressful especially the first time round. New Mum's can become overwhelmed with all of the information, instructions and learning the crying cues from your in the first couple weeks of becoming a mother.
Meanwhile its not uncommon that your family, friends and even strangers will often add their (well meaning) but often not needed piece of advice on how often your newborn 'should' be feeding. The hard part about this is that getting different pieces of advise can often be conflicting to what you may have been told firstly leading to stress and anxiety on exactly how often your newborn should be feeding.
Here are some great tips and advise from our Feeding Your Newborn workshop host; Emma Maher (Midwife/Lactation Consultant) from Empowered Lactation with Emma on how often newborns breastfeed.
Getting to know your newborn...
Newborns typically breastfeeding frequently; as a new mother its highly likely that you will start to feel that your days start to blend together and your baby just eats and sleep on repeat for the first few weeks of life.
This is especially true when activities like bath, shower, tummy time, cuddles and some unsettled periods are added into the daily mix of life with a newborn. But mostly overall newborn babies just like to feed and sleep! - did I mention sleeping on your chest?! That's for another post!
Newborns tummy's are quite small (like the size of a walnut), and breast milk is very easily digestible, and with a laxative affect. Knowing this helps us to makes sense that its going to pass through their little digestive systems quickly and why they will need a refill often.
Mothers can often get worried thinking that they have a 'low supply' and are not producing enough milk and that's why their baby seems hungry all the time so they switch to formula. Its good to know that its perfectly normal that sometimes babies will want to breastfeed again half an hour or 2 hours after the last feed and this does not necessarily mean you have low supply.
Newborns feed for many reasons: thirst, hunger, tired, lonely, cold, pain and the list continues! If your breastfeeding babe wants to feed about 8-12 times but sometimes more every 24hrs, then that's about average!
Its always good to make sure you are drinking plenty of water to help your body restore your milk supply, whilst keeping your own hydration levels up.
Image Credit [@Ingrid
Breastfeeding is so much more...
Breast feeding for your baby is so much more than just feeding. It provides your newborn with the warmth of your body, the sound and smell of their Mum, and a safe place for them to instinctively want to be.
If you want to ensure that your baby is getting enough milk, the best way you can do this is by ensuring that they have optimal latch with adequate nipple and areola stimulation. Having an optimal latch will ultimately help guide you to knowing if they are able to adequately receive enough milk and enter into a deep restful sleep. (Remembering there is a heap of other factors that can influence breastfeeding to).
This brings me to 'cluster feeding' and that time of the day (or night) where they choose (yep your tiny little human has their own personality already) when they want to be at the breast feeding frequently. And by this I mean... it will often feel like you have sat on that lounge or laid in bed for a few hours feeding your baby non stop. Isn't it funny that often but not always, your baby wants to be fed at your dinner time (cue in cold dinners).
If your lucky, you might be able to sneak in a wee stop to the toilet; but soon enough your little one will let you know they are not done yet! Again let me reassure you that this is normal behavior for a newborn (that can continue for many months) and although you may feel like there is surely no milk left - ah hah! Let me remind you that your breasts are constantly producing milk all the time.
There will be enough - trust your body. Often your little one will want to breastfeed for comfort and that's okay to!
When you start to notice that pattern of 'cluster feeding' beginning, try and remember to prepare yourself so that you can make sure you have enough healthy snacks, your dinner prepped earlier and a cosy blanket nearby.. so you can sit, relax and enjoy soaking up all of those moments when you are holding and breastfeeding your baby.
Know that its okay to to use the breast to settle, to soothe, to put to sleep and to feed your baby. Your breasts have been created wonderfully for many reasons! I encourage you to 'feed to need' and let no one else determine what 'reasons' qualify or what timing is appropriate, you have plenty of time and opportunity to practice ..over and over :)
If you need any additional help, support or advise you can contact me via my website here.
Just remember; You've got this Mumma!
For more information on Feeding Your Newborn - Join us for our next workshop where we will dive deeper into all the information needed for support you on your newborn feeding journey (both breastfed and formula).
Feeding Your Newborn Workshop
Find out when our next workshop is!
Written by: Emma Maher (Lactation Consultant/Midwife)