Even if your breasts are small, even if you have twins, even if you're worried… (this isn’t foolproof.)
The most important factor in making an abundant, but not too abundant milk supply is frequent, active feeds. An active feed happens when you are paying attention and your baby is noticeably swallowing milk. Comfort nursing and flutter sucking are part of active feeds, but only a small part. If your baby is comfort nursing for more than 5 or 10 minutes, without falling into a deep sleep, switch sides.
Try to feed your newborn 12-16 times every 24 hours until they are 2 weeks old. It may seem like a lot, but you are probably holding, rocking and soothing your baby that often anyway. You can’t overfeed a breastfed baby but you can underfeed them.
A newborn may feed hourly or may cluster feed for irregular sessions before sleeping 3 to 5 hours. It may seem like a wide range, but this is normal for humans.
Pay attention to your baby's sucking and behavior.
If baby is rooting, looking hungry or acting discontented, they probably need to eat. If you aren't sure, offer your breast. In our culture, we aren't used to breastfed babies and often moms will compare their new baby to an older breastfeeding baby or a formula fed baby who eats larger amounts every 3 or 4 hours.
When weight gain is steady, feedings are easier, and if your baby is agreeable, it's ok to decrease to 8-12 feeds in 24 hours. Feeding fewer than 8 feeds a day is likely to result in decreasing your milk supply leading to supplementation and early weaning.
Use a checklist or an app to keep track of how many times you feed. Frequent feeds may also calm an overabundant supply, avoid engorgement and help to prevent a crying and fussy baby, mastitis, slow or no weight gain!
The role of colostrum
While you were pregnant, you may have noticed drops of colostrum forming at the tip of your nipple. Colostrum is full of immune factors and just the right amount of calories and nutrients for a newborn baby.
At birth, your baby's stomach is the size of a large marble. As your baby grows, it will be always be about the size of their fist, so, really not that big. The teaspoon-sized feeds of colostrum are the perfect size for their tummy.
A newborn has an immature immune system and is vulnerable to illness. Colostrum starts fighting germs with immune factors, pre-biotics and probiotics which colonize the baby’s digestive tract. This biome boost creates the thick and protective mucus membrane that will ensure your baby's good health.
How will I know if I can be successful breastfeeding?
Nobody can predict how successful you will be. The only way you will know if you can successfully breastfeed your baby is to try. The fastest way to be comfortable learning breastfeeding, is to have a mentor or coach, often a lactation consultant, to help you through the first feedings and answer all your questions with accurate information.
Interview lactation consultants as well as pediatricians while you are pregnant so you are know who you are calling and are comfortable asking questions when you need to.
It's easiest to learn breastfeeding the right way the first time.
And, it’s easier to address a breastfeeding problem in the first five days, than on Days 7, 14 or 21. This is because you and your baby haven't learned any bad habits and more importantly, you aren't totally frustrated and overwhelmed and your baby still has reserves from pregnancy.
If you need help, send a text or fill our contact form. We'll get right back to you.