Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural way to nourish your baby, but it can come with its fair share of challenges.
If you’re expecting a baby or you’ve just become a parent, you probably have quite a few questions about your breastfeeding journey.
In this blog, the team at The Parents Class in Brighton wanted to answer some of the most common questions new mothers have about breastfeeding, to help you navigate the early stages and beyond.
How can I prepare for breastfeeding before birth?
It’s important to make sure you get as much information as you can about all aspects of birth and pregnancy before the big day, but this is especially true for breastfeeding, a magical part of motherhood that’s as vital as it is special.
The NHS recommends attending an antenatal class for information on breastfeeding.
Full Antenatal courses with The Parents Class in Brighton, for instance, offer in-depth help and expert guidance on essential topics like latching, positioning and expressing to ensure you feel confident and prepared to start breastfeeding.
For more information about our antenatal courses in Brighton, head to our courses page, here.
How often should I feed my baby in the first 24 hours after birth?
Ideally, breastfeeding should begin within the first hour after your baby’s birth, a period widely referred to as the ‘Golden Hour’ for the benefits it can bring to both mum and baby.
Part of the ‘Golden Hour’ involves the practice of placing your baby directly skin-to-skin on your chest, usually under your shirt or a blanket.
Doing this can help maintain your baby’s body temperature, breathing and initiate breastfeeding.
The feeds both during the ‘Golden Hour’ and throughout the first 24 hours will involve the production of colostrum – a thick, golden yellowish fluid that is a more concentrated food than the milk you will produce in the weeks to come.
Your baby will only need a small amount of this rich colostrum, around a teaspoon during each feed, although you may find that they want to feed quite frequently, perhaps even hourly during the first day.
These small amounts of colostrum help with both the activation of your baby’s digestive system, as well as ensuring that they are able to coordinate their breathing and swallowing with sucking.
The more your baby sucks, the more colostrum (and soon after, milk) your body will make.
How often should I breastfeed my baby in the first few days?
Over the course of the first few days you may find that your baby wants to feed very often.
During this time, don’t be afraid to feed your baby as often as they want for as long as they want.
This technique is called “responsive feeding” and is recommended by the NHS.
A very rough guide to this would be around 8-12 sessions in a 24 hour period.
Some good indicators that your baby may be hungry include restlessness, finger sucking, murmuring and turning their head and opening their mouths (what’s known as “rooting“).
Trying to feed a crying baby is difficult so it’s worth keeping an eye out for these signs.
Remember, you cannot overfeed a breastfed baby and the amount your baby feeds will correspond to the amount your body produces.
This means that the more your baby feeds the more milk your body will make.
How often should I breastfeed my baby in the first few weeks?
During the first month, aim to nurse whenever your baby shows signs they may be hungry.
Don’t be afraid to let your baby guide the frequency of feeds; their calorific intake will continue to increase and they’ll be sure to let you know when they need more food.
As a rough guide this means 8+ feeds during a 24 hour period.
Remember, breastfeeding is not just about nourishment. It’s a way to bond with your little one and provide them with comfort.
Does breastfeeding cause jaundice?
Jaundice is common in newborns and is more often than not the result of the breakdown of excess red blood cells.
Although breastfeeding may increase the chances of your baby developing jaundice, you shouldn’t stop breastfeeding because the symptoms usually pass in a few weeks and are harmless.
The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks posed by jaundice.
If your baby does develop jaundice, it’s important that they continue to breastfeed to ensure they get the essential nutrients and immune–protection your milk provides them with.
How can I tell whether my baby is getting enough milk from me during feeds?
Keeping an eye on your baby’s nappy during the first few weeks is a good indication as to whether they are receiving enough milk.
In the first 48 hours your baby is likely to only have 2 to 3 wet nappies.
By the fifth day and onwards, however, you should find that this begins to become more frequent, with a rough guideline being around 6 wet, heavy nappies every 24 hours.
Similarly, by the fourth day and heading forwards, your baby should also be producing at least 2 soft, yellow-coloured poos the size of a large coin every day for the first few weeks.
Other important indicators that your baby is feeding properly include whether they look alert and whether they come off the breast by themselves at the end of feeds.
Do I need to breastfeed my baby at night?
Yes, breastfeeding at night is a critical part of building your milk supply. More of the hormone prolactin, which is responsible for lactation, is produced at night.
Breastfeeding at night also helps with the development of a strong breastfeeding relationship.
Plus, by providing your baby with essential nutrients during the night, you’ll be helping to comfort them should they wake up in the small hours – which they often do!
Why does my baby feed more frequently sometimes?
During the first two months after birth, expect your baby’s demand for their feeds to vary as they undergo growth spurts.
At some points they may require lots of feeds to help themselves to feel comfortable and to ensure they get the number of calories they need for healthy growth.
These spurts in growth are entirely normal and any radical changes to your feeding routine should only be temporary.
So, Brighton parents, we hoped that helped answer some of your most urgent breastfeeding questions!
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to breastfeeding is that every baby is different (which is what makes them so special!), so don’t worry if your experience doesn’t end up exactly matching what’s said here.
Another important thing to remember is that if you have any concerns about your baby and breastfeeding, you should let your midwife or GP know sooner rather than later.