How often should I feed my baby?
Your baby has a tiny stomach and is used to being fed continuously in the womb, so she will need to feed often and for as long as she wants at least in the first few weeks:
- Newborns will typically feed around 8-12 times a day, which means it might feel like you are feeding around the clock. Don’t worry, this doesn’t last too long.
- Your baby should feed at least every 3-4 hours in the first few weeks, so if they are sleeping you need to wake them up.
- For a more detailed guideline on feeding, click here.
How do I know when my baby is hungry?
It is best not to breastfeed according to a strict schedule but whenever your baby shows signs of hunger, which include:
- Increased alertness or activity.
- Mouthing, or rooting around for your nipple.
- Putting her hand to her mouth.
- Sucking movements or sounds.
- Crying, however this is a late sign of hunger; ideally you should start feeding your baby before she starts crying.
How long does each feeding last?
Let your baby feed as long as she wants at one breast; this usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes. Your baby may take more or less time. When she is finished with one breast, burp her. Then switch her to feed from the other breast. It’s OK if she only wants to nurse from one breast. Just be sure to start her on the other breast at the next feeding. Let your baby end breastfeeding on her own.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Lots of new moms ask this question. Your body is pretty amazing; as you breastfeed, your body learns when your baby needs more milk. Your body makes exactly the right amount for your baby. But what if you’re still not sure he’s eating enough? Your baby is probably getting enough milk if he is:
- Baby has 3-5 wet diapers and 3-4 soiled diapers by 3-5 days of age. Baby has 4-6 wet diapers and 3-6 soiled diapers per day by 5-7 days of
age. After 6 weeks, the number of soiled diapers may decrease to one every few days.
- Gaining weight; baby should regain her birth weight within two weeks. For a more detailed guideline on weight gain, click here.
Other ways to know baby is getting enough:
- Baby makes swallowing/gulping sounds (it might be hard to hear, so listen or watch carefully).
- Your breasts feel softer after a feed.
- Baby seems relaxed and satisfied after a feed.
How do I ensure a great milk supply?
Milk production is a supply and demand system; the amount of milk created depends on how much has been taken out.
- Milk removal is especially important in the first 2-3 weeks because that is when your milk production capacity is established. The more milk you remove in this time, the more you will have for your baby over the longer term.
- But don’t worry if you have trouble in those first few weeks, there are ways to improve your supply later on.
- Once you start producing milk, it is always being made; faster when the breast is less full, and slower when the breast is more full. This is why your milk production will slow if you wait until your breasts “fill up” to feed your baby, so don’t wait! It is also why your breasts are never truly empty; you can always get more out!
Does my baby need vitamin supplements?
Yes. A supplement is a product you take to make up for certain nutrients that you don’t get enough of in the foods you eat. Breast milk doesn't have enough vitamin D for your baby. Vitamin D helps make bones and teeth strong and helps prevent a bone disease called rickets. Give your baby vitamin D drops starting in the first few days of life. Talk to your baby’s doctor about vitamin D drops for your baby.
Further information and help
While breastfeeding is natural, many women, especially first-time mums, have lots of questions and need help. While family and friends mean well, they might provide advice that is not based on facts, so encourage them to check out our website. Your husband might feel unable to help if you are having trouble, but we outline ways he can be supportive here. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Here are some places to turn:
- We offer free classes on breastfeeding and free one-on-one counseling at our Mother's Classes Centers. Find your local Center here.
- Your family and friends. While they might not have all the right information, they can support you by:
- Contact your local Mother's Classes for advice.
- Cooking meals and having plenty of food available, especially ‘one-handed’ meals.
- Reminding you to drink lots of clean water to stay hydrated.
- Doing more around the house, like clean, shop and pick up other kids from school.
- Giving you lots of love and support, reminding you that you are doing a great job, how beautiful your child is and how the hard part is only temporary and it will take at least a few months to get the handle of motherhood.
- Your doctor or your baby’s doctors, but keep in mind they might not have much experience or training in breastfeeding support. For example, if one of their first suggestions is to stop breastfeeding, then you should seek more advice.
- There are lots of great online resources and forums, although mostly in English. Here are a few of our favorites:
- La Leche League International
- International Breastfeeding Centre
- March of Dimes
There is also an excellent breastfeeding support APP you can download on your smartphone by Nancy Mohrbacher Solutions Inc., "Breastfeeding Solutions".