Tag Archives: Richmond Hill

Watch the Baby

How long to feed baby picture.

How long to feed baby picture.

Something I see new Moms and Dads struggle with is how long a baby needs to feed at the breast to be full, satisfied and thrive.  I have heard all different numbers from my clients: 10 minutes each side, 20 minutes each side, 30 minutes one side.  None of these times are correct for all babies; no one time fits all.  Just like adults, each baby needs a different amount of time to eat.  When I sit down to eat with friends and family, we all finish at different times; babies are the same.  Timing feeds is misleading: it rarely provides an accurate measure of how much baby is taking in.  If we were to take two three-day old babies and measure how much they had eaten during a 15-minute breast feed, one could take in 5ml and the other could take in 35ml; if we cut off the first baby at 15 minutes, he could be underfed.  Timing also takes the focus of your baby and learning to watch/listen to them and places it on numbers which can lead to more stress.

One of the most common reasons I am called in for in-home consultations is high weight loss in the first few weeks and/or a baby having trouble gaining weight by breastfeeding.  I have seen Moms use the knowledge they were able to retain from their whirlwind visit to their Hospital for delivery, and stop a baby mid-feed at the 10- or 15-minute mark to burp the baby and switch sides.  I have even seen a Mother set a 10-minute timer so she would remember to switch sides.  Following the clock can lead you to cut your baby’s feed short.  You may be stopping them when they were just getting in to a good suck-and-swallow pattern, or you may even be limiting their ability to take in the fatty rich milk.

Watching your baby for signs of satisfaction is a much more accurate way to gauge your baby’s satiety.  Watch that baby has had a good, sustained suck-and-swallow pattern, and is not sleeping on the breast.  Watch baby for a relaxed arm; a newborn’s arm will start a feed flexed tightly with a clenched fist, a “chicken wing”.  Over the course of a good feed, your baby will slow down their sucking/swallowing pattern, relax their arm and fist, and may even fall off the breast with a relaxed open mouth; this tells you Baby is full and happy.  Once your baby gets in to this more relaxed state on the breast you can help them by performing breast compressions- ‘squeeze your breast-hold your hand their- then release the squeeze’ repeat a couple of these in a row.  Watch to see if your baby increases the sucking and swallowing.  If not you can sit your baby up and burp baby, mostly to wake so you can offer the other breast.  Offering both breasts in the beginning allows baby to take in more milk, practice breastfeeding more, and give your milk supply extra stimulation.  Your baby may not want the second breast at each feed, just like we don’t always want dessert with each meal.  Once your milk transitions, you also should feel relief in your breast from the start of a feed to the end.

Sometimes in the early days babies can be sleepy at the breast you can help them to stay actively feeding by using breast compressions and switching breasts- even going to each breast twice in a feeding to help them stay more awake and take in more milk.  If they are sucking and swallowing no need to switch breasts until they slow down/stop.

Watch that sweet baby; they can tell you a lot!

Katie Wickham RN BScN, IBCLC

info@babiesfirstlactation.com

www.babiesfirstlactation.com

www.facebook.com/BabiesFirstLactationAndEducation

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The Newborn’s Stomach

I see many new families in the hospital, breastfeeding clinic, and in their homes with my private practice, and I hear many common questions.  One of the recurring themes comes across in statements like “my baby can’t be getting very much” or “my baby is feeding so frequently, I must not have milk. This cannot be normal!”  There are many charts on the Internet that show an illustration of the size of a newborn’s stomach, I felt putting these illustrations into real world sizes we can see would be helpful.

Below is an illustration I have created showing the approximate size and volume of a newborn’s stomach on day one, day three, at one week, and at one month.  Newborns’ tummies are tiny, and cannot/should not take in large volumes, so they need to feed frequently.  In the first day or two, their little tummy fills with 2-20 ml during a breastfeed, and then, snuggled in close to your warm chest and familiar heartbeat, they fall asleep.  Just as you may be drifting off to sleep or decide that you too should eat something, they start to wake up and show signs of hunger; their sweet little fists fly frantically to their mouth and their lips start smacking together.  Their little tummies have started to digest that perfect amount of colostrum, and they are starting to get hungry again.  A newborn baby feeds 8-12+ times in 24 hours, which means they will be feeding about every 1-3 hours.  After the first 24 hours and for the first week or two the baby should feed the minimum of 8 times in 24 hours to ensure they stay hydrated (shown by pees and poops), assist with things like jaundice and weight loss/gain, establish Mom’s milk supply properly and get lots of practice at the art of breastfeeding.

They often cluster feeds together; this means your precious little one may breastfeed for 45 minutes then fall asleep, then wake 30 minutes later and feed for another 30 minutes, and fall asleep.  The next feed may happen 2 hours later, then 3 hours after that, then an hour later… I’m sure you get the idea; there is no set schedule.  This is the best way to establish a healthy milk supply and to allow baby to control when they eat and how much.  You can not breastfeed your baby too much, but you can breastfeed them too little.

Many families feel the need to supplement their baby; maybe they are concerned with the frequent feedings, or feeling pressured from their doctor or family.  I often hear my clients comment that they hear their well-meaning family members say “The baby is crying again, she must be hungry” or “The baby is fussing, are you sure you have milk?” or “the baby just ate an hour ago, you must not have enough if he is hungry already.”  This can create, or further feed the insecurity a new mother may already be feeling, and often leads to unnecessary supplementation.  Some families feel they need to supplement due to pressure from the Doctor, and other families are supplementing for legitimate medical reasons (these reasons should be clearly communicated to you).  When you are supplementing it is crucial that you keep in mind how small those little tummies are.  If you supplement too much this will cause baby to sleep longer and feed less frequently and any time they are supplemented away from the breast you lose the stimulation  and removal of milk needed to signal your body to make more milk; this will directly impact your milk supply.  If you are supplementing always seek guidance from an expert in feeding- a board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) will help guide you through how to supplement, how to protect your supply while supplementing and how to wean the supplements when the time is right.  Every baby is different and the size of your baby can impact how much they require/can take in by supplement.  Small term/preterm babies will often have trouble taking in the same volume as an 11lb newborn baby.  Seeking support will help customize supplementing based on your unique situation.

Understanding the size of your Baby’s stomach, the average volume taken in during a breastfeed and typical newborn feeding frequency can help alleviate some anxiety a mother feels when she is trusting her body to nourish her child.  Newborns are only this tiny for a short time, those stomachs grow quickly and they get more efficient at breastfeeding which means breastfeeding sessions become less frequent and shorter.  For now enjoy those snuggles, and feel encouraged that your baby is feeding frequently and doing a fantastic job of “demanding” a healthy supply of breast milk.  The great effort you and your baby put in during the first few days establishes a solid start for a happy and healthy breastfeeding relationship.

Copyright Babies First Lactation and Education

Copyright Babies First Lactation and Education

Katie Wickham RN BScN, IBCLC

www.babiesfirstlactation.com

https://www.facebook.com/BabiesFirstLactationAndEducation

*Original image has been updated 2 times to improve clarity and quality.  This image and any others on this topic by Babies First Lactation and Education may not be altered in any way or used without permission.  For information on using this image please contact Katie at info@babiesfirstlactation.com