Thursday, June 27, 2013
Breastfeeding is a great way to give your baby a healthy start. Here we cover some of the most common questions new moms have. There are also people in your community who can answer other, more specific questions you may have. These people include your doctor, the staff at your local WIC office, and the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC ) - the “breastfeeding experts”.
What to Expect in the First 3 Days
How much does my baby need? A newborn’s stomach is only as big as a large marble. The first milk we make for our babies is called colostrum and it is made in perfectly tiny amounts. The colostrum will last about 2-5 days and then you’ll notice that your milk has “come in” perfectly in sync with your baby’s growing belly.
When can I feed my baby? Try to feed your baby as soon after birth as possible. Many babies are born ready and looking for the breast. In the first days and weeks, it might feel like your baby always wants to eat – 8-12 times a day is normal! Get tips on how to tell if your baby is hungry.
Ask for help! No one expects that you will have it all figured out in the first days. You and your baby are learning together. There will be nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital that can help you, answer your questions, and encourage you.
OUCH! That Hurts!
While a lot of women notice only a slight tug at the nipple, others find breastfeeding to be uncomfortable or even painful at first. The good news is, it is often fixable with a little help and support. Check out these tips:
Comfortable Body Position – Find a comfortable place to sit and make sure that your whole body is well supported. Keep some pillows close by so you can use them to support your arms and back. Many mothers find that leaning back, like you would sit leaned back in a recliner, works well. Make sure that your baby’s body is turned toward yours and is supported as well.
Wide Open Latch – Pain associated with breastfeeding often comes from the baby not taking enough of the breast into their mouth. Place your nipple at the baby’s nose and then wait for the baby to open wide. When they do, pull them in close. This will allow them to take in as much of the breast as possible. The wider a mouthful they can get, the less it will hurt.
If It Still Hurts, Get Help! – If you are experiencing pain while breastfeeding, reach out for help. You are not alone! Ask your pediatrician, OB/GYN, or local hospital to help you get connected with health care providers, mother-to-mother support groups or other resources.
Is My Baby Getting Enough?
Lots of moms worry about whether their baby is getting enough to eat, and sometimes it’s hard to know. Here are 3 ways to know if you’re baby is getting enough:
Diapers – What goes in must come out! Count how many wet and dirty diapers your baby has each day. By the time a baby is 4 days old, 5-6 wet diapers and 3-4 dirty diapers a day is normal. The urine should be light in color and not have a strong odor. Dirty diapers should be loose and yellow, with what looks like seeds or curds inside.
Weight – Babies who are gaining weight well are eating well. While it is completely normal for a baby to lose between 5-7% of their body weight in the days immediately after birth, most babies are back to their birth weight by the time they are 2 weeks old. Babies usually gain between ½ - 1oz. per day. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician if you are unsure about your baby’s growth.
Is My Baby Alert and Active? – Babies who are getting enough to eat typically have some time everyday where they are wide-eyed and engaging with those around them. Your baby is learning all about the world and figuring out who the people are who care for them. Enjoy this time!
Looking at all of these factors together will help you know if your baby is getting enough to eat. If you have any questions or concerns, ask your baby’s pediatrician or a lactation consultant for help.