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Breastfeeding

Most asked questions

How to establish a routine for feeding my baby?

Newborns have tiny tummies and so need to feed frequently.  Feeding frequently in the early days and weeks helps make sure you have a good milk supply.

Because breastmilk is easily digested, it is normal for breastfed babies to feed 8–12 times in a 24-hour period. This usually means that your baby will breastfeed on average every 2–3 hours around the clock (day and night), with possibly one longer stretch between feeds somewhere in a 24-hour period. The length of time between feeds can vary greatly from baby to baby. The time between feeds is from the beginning of the last feed, not the end. Newborns also tend to have periods each day where they feed very frequently for a few hours (cluster feeds). So often baby’s cluster feed late afternoon into the evening, this is very normal and healthy. They are preparing your milk supply for the night time. Often these cluster feeding periods are followed by a longer stretch of sleep.

In most cases, healthy, thriving newborns will wake of their own accord for feeds and so get all the milk they need. Feeding your baby when he/she is showing early feeding cues can help him to feed better.

However, there are some reasons why a newborn may be extra sleepy. It may be necessary to wake your baby for feeds to ensure he/she gets the milk they need. Some of the reasons are medical (eg jaundice or perhaps medications/pain relief used during labour/birth) others may be related to their weight or general health. It is important to be guided by your doctor or midwife in these situations. They will communicate openly with you about why your baby’s needs are different, how to meet their needs and when to ask for help.

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More questions

Should my baby be awake when I feed them?

If your baby keeps falling asleep on the breast try to keep her awake to ensure she gets enough milk. You can do this by using breast compression as she is feeding, switching between breasts regularly and offering the other side, also try to feed her more regularly during alert periods. You can also try to unwrap her so that she isn’t too warm and sleepy.

In the early days baby should be feeding 8-12 times in 24 hours.

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Should I change sides when breastfeeding?

Whilst breastfeeding your baby let them finish feeding on one side before moving to the other side. You should feel that your breast is empty before changing sides. At the next feed start on the breast that you finished on. Baby will pull off of the breast when they have had enough.

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How long does breast milk take to let down?

A mother’s milk tends to “come in” around day 3-5 after birth. There is already colostrum in the breasts, however the milk will increase in volume. This will be the time that the mother notices her breast becoming full and heavy, milk leaking and changing in appearance from thick golden colostrum to a thinner lighter white colour. Mothers may also notice a change in their baby’s behavior and feeding patterns.

After this mother’s may be able to feel when they get a ‘let down’ and their milk is pushed out which happens multiple times during a feed. This may feel like a tingling sensation, a sudden feeling of fullness in the breast or leaking on the other side. Your baby's sucking pattern will change and she will start to gulp or swallow more often when the milk is letting-down.

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Do I clean the nipple after each feed?

The breasts and nipples do not need to be cleaned in between feeds. If there is any dried colostrum this can be brushed away.

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How long should I breastfeed for?

It is recommended that babies are fed with only breastmilk for the first six months of their life. It is all that they need to thrive and grow. The World Health Organisation recommends that babies are continued to be fed with breast milk as well as solid food for 12-24 months.

During the first few days of life your baby will be getting the nutrient rich colostrum while she breastfeeds. This is small in quantity but really high in calories and protein and is all they need in the first few days. They will feed around 8-12 times in 24 hours, which means she will feed every 2-3 hours on average. The time spent breastfeeding differs amongst babies and women, it is generally and where from 20- 60 minutes. You will know that they are getting enough as they will have wet and dirty nappies.

You cannot overfeed a breastfed baby.

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