Our BFFs at ivillage.com have consulted parenting pros to get answers to the questions new moms ask the most about breastfeeding.
1. How often should I feed my baby?
Most breastfed babies will nurse about 8 to 12 times each 24 hours in the early weeks. In the first week or so, as you and your baby are learning about breastfeeding, it is usually best to feed your baby at least every two to three hours from the start of one feeding to the start of the next during the day, with one longer stretch of up to four hours at night. However, if your baby asks to be fed sooner than two hours it is always a good idea to follow the baby’s feeding cues even if the last feeding has just ended a short time ago.
2. How long should I feed my baby?
Most babies vary the length of time they spend on the breast. Allow your baby to finish the first breast before offering the second breast. You will know your baby is finished with one breast when she comes off spontaneously or has an extended period, longer than about a minute, of no sucking. It’s normal for babies to take brief pauses in sucking lasting about 10 to 30 seconds after which they will spontaneously begin to suck again. These brief pauses are not an indication that the baby is finished. Allow the baby to take these pauses. You can encourage your baby to suck again if needed after a rest of about 10 to 30 seconds. After your baby has finished the first breast you may want to burp her, diaper her and then offer the second breast.
3. How do I know my baby is positioned and latched on correctly?
The best way to learn to assess your position and latch is with an experienced lactation consultant. (BONNIE SAYS: Ask for one in the hospital, before you leave, so you can reassure yourself that you’re doing it right!) But, feeling comfortable generally, without any breast or nipple pain, during a feeding is a good indicator your position and latch are correct. Be sure your baby is facing the breast and does not have to turn her head to reach it and that the baby’s ear, shoulder and hip are in a straight line. The baby’s mouth should be widely flanged on the areola. Both you and the baby should be in a position that promotes good body alignment with your spine straight and comfortable and your bodies well supported.
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