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Breastfeeding - Page 2

Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter
Healthy Pregnancy Newsletter - Growing Baby

Your Baby's Nutrition

The process of breastfeeding and the qualities of your milk change as your baby grows and develops. A newborn's feeding routine may be different than that of a breastfeeding 6-month-old. As your baby grows, the nutrients in your milk adapt to your growing baby's needs. The infection-fighting properties also increase if you or your baby are exposed to some new bacteria or virus.

What you should know about the first month of breastfeeding:

  • early breastfeeding
    The first weeks of breastfeeding will be a learning period for both you and your baby. Do not expect to work as a coordinated team immediately. Give yourselves plenty of time to recuperate from labor and birth, develop a daily routine, and overcome any initial breastfeeding difficulties.

    It may help to keep a simple chart to mark daily feedings and diaper counts until your baby is gaining weight appropriately. To make a chart, take a piece of paper and number down 24 hours from midnight to 11 p.m. Then make several columns for breastfeeding, wet diaper, and stool, and put a check in the appropriate column as it occurs. Some mothers add extra columns for pumping sessions and alternative feedings.
  • day1
    Most full-term, healthy babies are ready and eager to begin breastfeeding within the first two hours of birth. After the initial feeding, a baby may fall asleep or be drowsy for the next two to 20 hours, so he/she may not want to breastfeed again this first day. However, a baby should breastfeed several times that first day. Expect to change only a couple of wet and dirty diapers during the first 24 hours.
  • days 2 to 4
    Although your baby may need practice with latching on and sucking, by the second day your baby should begin to wake and cue (show readiness) every one and one-half to three hours, for a total of eight to 12 breastfeedings in 24 hours. These frequent feedings provide your baby with antibody-rich first milk called colostrum. Your baby should suckle for at least 10 minutes and may continue for about 30 minutes on the first breast before letting go, or "self-detaching," without help from you. When he/she finishes at one breast, you can burp and change a diaper before offering the second breast.

    As with Day 1, you probably will change only a few wet and dirty diapers on baby's second and third days, and do not be surprised if your baby loses weight during the first several days. The number of diaper changes and baby's weight will increase when your milk "comes in."

    Because your baby still is learning, you may experience nipple tenderness when he/she latches on or during a breastfeeding. Other factors also may contribute to this tenderness, but usually it is mild and disappears by the end of the first week. If tenderness persists, develops into pain, or nipple cracking is noted, contact a international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC).
  • days 3 to 5
    The volume of breast milk produced increases dramatically at about three or four days after birth, and the milk is said to have "come in." Your baby probably will drift off after his/her eight to 12, 10 to 30-minute feedings and act more satisfied after a meal. Within 12 to 24 hours, you should be changing a lot more wet diapers. The number of dirty diapers also increases, and the stools should be changing in color and consistency. From the dark, tarry meconium stool, they should become softer and a brown color, and then a mustard-yellow color, and loose and seedy. Weight gain should also pick up within 24 hours of this increase in milk production, so your baby begins to gain at least half an ounce (15 g) a day.
  • days 5 to 28
    Your baby will become more proficient at breastfeeding as the first month progresses. Expect to feed your baby about eight to 12 times in 24 hours and for approximately 10 to 30 minutes at the first breast before he/she lets go of the breast without your help. You can then burp the baby, change his/her diaper, and switch to the second breast. Usually, your newborn will breastfeed for a shorter period at the second breast, and sometimes he/she may not want to feed on the second breast at all. Simply offer the second breast first at the next feeding.

    Babies that guzzle their food nonstop may self-detach in 10 to 15 minutes; babies preferring to savor their meals often take 20 to 35 minutes on the first breast, because they tend to take a few several-minute breaks between "courses." Whichever type your baby is, it is important to let him/her choose when to let go of the breast, as this self-detachment will increase the amount of higher fat/higher calorie milk (hindmilk) your baby takes in.

Let your baby set the pace for breastfeeding. Pay attention to his/her feeding cues. The number of feedings each baby needs and the length of time each feeding lasts will vary from baby to baby. Trying to force a breastfed baby to wait longer between feedings, or fit a particular feeding schedule, can result in poor weight gain.

Growth Spurts
Your baby probably will go through several "growth spurt" periods when he/she seems to want to eat almost around the clock. Babies commonly experience a growth spurt between two to three weeks, four to six weeks, and again at about three months. It is important to let a baby feed more often during these spurts. Within a few days, your baby will have returned to a more typical pattern.


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