How Often Should You Breastfeed Your Baby?
One of the most typical questions asked by breastfeeding mothers is how often they should feed their baby? This question is not only posed by breastfeeding mothers, but also by bottle feeding moms. However, the time duration and frequency of feedings is different for both cases, so mothers should follow an appropriate schedule for their baby. During the first few days after birth, your baby will need quite a few feedings throughout the day. Since the baby's stomach will be small, it will not be possible for the baby to drink for a long period of time. The baby's milk intake will be small but frequent, and you will have to breastfeed around 8 to 12 times during the day, for 15 to 20 minutes each. This means that your baby will need to be fed after every 2 hours. Although this is not a hard and fast rule, the frequency and duration varies from baby to baby. These frequent feedings in the initial days after giving birth help stimulate the breast, helping you to produce more milk.
When Should You Feed?
Ideally, mothers should breastfeed their baby as often as the baby feels hungry. Your baby will show clear signs of hunger, like lifting her fists and hands to the mouth, looking around and sniffing you, and trying to hold your breast when you pick her up. In the first few weeks, you will only need to feed the baby for about 10 to 15 minutes each time, which will gradually increase with time. You should make sure that the baby feels filled and content when she leaves your breast. If she shows any signs of hunger, you should offer your second breast. Health organizations usually recommend that you keep the baby in your room at night, so that you can nurse the baby easily, whenever the baby wakes up. This way, you will not greatly affect your own sleeping schedule, as you will be able to feed the baby while not fully awake.
Maintaining Your Milk Supply
The second question most mothers are concerned about is whether they are producing enough milk to meet the baby's needs. You should be able to tell this by your baby's feeding habits and the frequency of feedings. As you continue breastfeeding, your milk supply should automatically increase to meet the baby's needs. You can also tell if the baby is getting enough milk by the baby's urination frequency. If the baby wets at least six diapers in a day, it should be good.
If you have a problem maintaining your milk supply, you may not be producing enough milk to leave the baby content after every feed. This means you will have to feed at regular intervals, and more frequently to meet the baby's demand. To avoid this, you can start using a breast pump between feeding sessions to stimulate the milk production in your breasts. Electric breast pumps like Medela Style at Trusted Breast Pumps not only pump milk, but they also massage the area around the nipple simulating more milk flow from the breasts, increasing the milk supply in mothers. By using a breast pump and by feeding your child frequently, you can make your milk production levels more reliable.
Your baby will change feeding habits over time. You should make sure that you follow your baby's feeding pattern, rather than following a feeding chart advised by the paediatrician. Babies in the growing stage have different needs at different times which mean the feeding pattern varies from baby to baby. Feed your baby as much as he or she wants, making sure that your baby is not left hungry. If your baby stays at your breast, do not shorten the feedings by taking the baby from the breast. Ensuring that the baby latches on properly is also something you should keep in mind. Your baby's overall weight gain should be able to tell you if the baby is getting enough milk or not.
As the baby grows older, the baby's stomach increases in size. Normally, the baby can take up to six months to start a regular feeding session, which can last up to half an hour. Once the baby starts feeding regularly, she will need less frequent feedings, as the amount consumed at each feeding increases. Make sure you rotate breasts to meet the baby's demand for milk. When your baby feeds at both breasts, it helps you maintain a good supply of milk production by both breasts. Babies over the age of six months are also introduced to foods other than breast milk, which means that two to three breastfeeding sessions a day will be enough for the baby.