The time has come! Nine months (or more like ten! ) ) Of waiting and your baby has arrived. Now comes all of the joy, pain, and wonder of that first couple of magical months of motherhood. In case you have opted to breastfeed, go ahead and familiarize yourself. You have selected the best possible nutrition for the baby! While breastfeeding can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be hard, if you are not equipped with good information. One question I’m frequently asked is,” How often should I breastfeed my baby?” If you’re stumped on this matter, read on. I will discuss how often you to nourish your baby, as well as, supply and need.
Developing a healthy and successful breastfeeding relationship starts with the very first feeding. Don’t worry about adhering to a feeding program, especially with a newborn. You should rely on your baby to supply you with hunger cues like whimpering, restlessness and rooting. Take your baby when you notice these subtle signs of hunger.
Don’t wait until your baby is crying excessively to feed. This is a late sign of hunger and means your baby has likely been hungry for a while. Initially, making certain your baby is properly latched on the breast is very important to avoid sore nipples. Proper latching is best achieved when your baby first displays signals of hunger and remains calm. Viewing for your baby’s hunger cues instead of seeing the clock is known as feeding on demand and is the feeding method recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
You should also bear in mind that infants experience growth spurts. Growth spurts usually happen at two weeks, 4 weeks, 2 months, 4 weeks, and 6 months of age. Extra calories must fuel your baby’s increasing metabolism during these times of rapid expansion. So, during those times, expect to feed as often as every hour to every hour and a half.
If you become discouraged during times of ingesting marathons, just know that your dedication to breastfeeding your baby is what is making them develop so robustly, and fulfill all those first-year milestones!
The last thing I wish to mention is demand and supply in regards to milk distribution. To put it simply, each time you breastfeed, you are regulating your milk supply. By feeding your baby on demand, you’re allowing your baby to choose just how much milk his body has to fulfill his caloric requirements.
When you feed on a schedule that you set rather than watching your baby for signs of hunger, your milk supply will not grow to satisfy your baby’s growing demands and, eventually, your milk supply will diminish. In other words, your own body will make as much milk as your baby eats.
So, how frequently should you breastfeed your baby? Well, if your baby ate two hours ago, and you are pretty sure she can’t be hungry already, offer her the breast. If you just fed your baby and he’s still crying and you know that he can’t be hungry, offer him the breastfeeding. To give you an idea of how often your baby may eat, I’ll explain to you how it went for me.
My babies constantly ate about every 3 hours. During growth spurts, they ate each hour for approximately two days. This wasn’t a program I set. I watched my babies from birth and constantly offered the breasts first if I even thought they could be hungry. Pretty soon, my babies had set themselves on a program and that I never had an issue with reduced milk supply.
To sum it up, find out your baby and listen to yourself. Become an expert in your baby’s behavior and you will not need to ask, “How often should I feed my baby?”