All new mothers, of the first or consequent child, find breastfeeding a little daunting at times. The main questions asked by most new or soon to be new mothers is how they will know if the baby is getting enough milk, how often should the baby be fed, how the mother will know if her milk has arrived and whether she should wake her baby for a feed. So to find out the answers, read on!
Breast milk is present in your body, even before the baby is born. However, it is not quite recognizable until you get the full flow. Milk now is in the form of a thin liquid called colostrum. It is concentrated and contains all the necessary nutrients the baby needs to help gain a natural immune system. Mother Nature is so wonderful, that she ensures that for the first few days, till your milk comes in, hit baby is nourished with what you provide. Over a few days, there is a tightening in your breasts, which is relieved by the suckling of your baby.
In the beginning, till your body adjusts to the needs of your baby, there may be some engorgement in the breasts that is slightly painful. This is relieved by your baby’s feeding. The breastfed babies like to be fed more often than those who are fed via bottles as breast milk is lighter than formulae, and is thus digested easily. You should be ready to feed your baby on the breast every 2-3 hours. This is not a rule, as some babies may get hungrier faster than others and thus need more feeding. On the other hand, there are babies who go slightly longer too.
Babies learn to tell you when he is hungry. When hungry, he starts crying, and pretty soon you learn to distinguish between the cry’s which mean if he is hungry, wet or just want to be cuddled. Make it a point to keep an eye on the baby’s weight. If he gains a few ounces a week, then it is obvious that he is getting enough. The best way of monitoring this is by taking him to the baby clinic. Keep a check on his diaper. If they are nice and wet, with lots of smiling, then it is obvious he is getting enough.
If the baby does not give 8 feeds in a 24-hour period, then you may have to wake him to feed him. New babies sleep a lot and get so comfortable and cozy that they don’t wake when they should for a feed. However, this can prove to be dangerous if the baby sleeps all day, to end up being more alert at night! So set a pattern, it is convenient to you and the baby. Do little tricks like changing your baby’s diaper to wake him up, without you feeling guilty! If you think he is missing a lot of feeds than required, then it proves to be a good idea to have a chat with your health visitor or doctor.