Your Top 10 Breastfeeding Questions, Answered!
1. When will my milk come in?
Starting from the second trimester of pregnancy, your body begins to produce protein-rich colostrum, the ‘first milk’ full of essential nutrients and easiest for newborns to digest. Milk production will be kickstarted by your hormones after your placenta is delivered: this is the signal for your body that it’s time to feed baby. Milk will increase in quantity and change in consistency approximately two to five days after you deliver, or earlier if you’ve had children before.
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2. How often do I feed my baby?
You should breastfeed 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period, usually once every 1.5 to 3 hours. It’s a good idea to simply follow your baby’s cues and let him feed whenever he’s hungry. Crying is actually a sign of hunger, so nurse your baby before he becomes so hungry that he’s difficult to calm down.
3. How do I know my baby is hungry?
In addition to crying (see above), babies will also display other signs, such as nuzzling against your breast, sucking on their hands, flexing their fingers and arms, and clenching their fists. When babies are full, they tend to relax their arms, legs, and hands and close their eyes.
4. How long should my baby nurse at each feeding?
The length of feedings can vary, and can depend on many factors. For this reason the best rule of thumb is to allow your baby to nurse as long as he’s actively sucking. Many lactation pros advise not to watch the clock, as you might miss important cues from your baby.
5. How do I know my baby is eating enough?
The best way to tell if your baby is getting enough is if he seems satisfied and looking sleepy after feeding. Another indicator is the number of wet and soiled diapers. During the first week, your baby should have one wet diaper for each day of life. By the first week, your baby should have at least 6 heavy, wet diapers and 2 or 3 bowel movements a day. When infants under 6 weeks skip a bowel movement, it could be a sign they’re not getting enough at feedings. After 6 weeks, it’s normal for some breastfed babies to have bowel movements only every 2 to 3 days. If you’re in any way concerned that your baby isn’t getting enough nutrition, talk to your pediatrician.
6. Should I give baby extra water or formula?
Providing your baby is feeding regularly, gaining weight and having wet nappies and bowel movements as described above, the answer is no. Breast milk is all your baby needs: introducing anything else will reduce the amount of time your baby sucks at your breast, which in turn will reduce your milk production.
7. When should I start introducing solids?
UNICEF, the WHO and other international health organizations including the HSE recommend exclusively breastfeeding until your baby is at least six months old, at which point you can begin introducing solid foods. This gives your baby’s digestive tract time to mature and ensures she’s getting the specific nutrients and immunities she needs from your breast milk.
8. What can I do to soothe sore breasts?
Because baby is likely to come into contact with anything you put on your nipples, make sure to use only 100% pure Lanolin cream when soothing cracked or sore nipples. Using a hot or cold pack or disinfecting compresses will also help reduce any swelling and discomfort.
9. Do I really need a nursing bra?
Nursing bras are specially designed to provide your breasts with the support they need as they go through this transitional period, as well as to provide you with easy access during breastfeeding. Traditional bras can be too constrictive, they may not allow your skin to breathe or the material may irritate sensitive nipples. Nursing bras also feature pull-down or clip-down cups to allow easy access for baby to latch on.
10. How should I store my breast milk?
There are plenty of milk storage containers available on the market: zip bags, glass bottles, BPA-free containers, and more. Decide according to what works best for your lifestyle. Always remember that milk can be left at room temperature for 4-8 hours, in the refrigerator for 4-6 days, and in the freezer for 4-6 months.
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