When you and your baby are learning how to breastfeed, it is normal to have lots of questions. Our International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and well trained nurses will work with you and your baby to initiate breastfeeding and answer any questions you may have.
Here are a few frequently asked questions:
Most babies need to feed at least eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period. Your baby may also cluster feed, meaning that she will want several feedings in a row. Although this may be exhausting for you, it is important to feed your baby when she shows signs of hunger. Each cluster feed counts toward the eight to 12 feedings in a 24-hour period.
Common signs of hunger, or hunger cues, include lip smacking, mouth opening or putting a hand in the mouth. During the first week of life, your baby will be very sleepy and may not cry when hungry. It is especially important that you pay attention to your baby's hunger cues during this time. Crying is typically a late sign of hunger.
Your baby may not seem hungry during the first few days of life. Pay close attention to hunger cues and increase skin-to-skin contact, especially before feeding time. It is also helpful to keep your baby interested and awake during feedings. Massaging and compressing your breast during the feeding may help to increase milk flow and remind him to continue sucking.
Before you begin breastfeeding, it is very important to remember the "3 C": You and your baby should be calm, comfortable and close. You should wash your hands, get comfortable, and decide on a feeding position. You should align your baby's chest with your tummy and your baby's nose should be in line with your nipple. You should use a "C" hold around your breast, with four fingers underneath and your thumb on top, to slightly compress your breast. Rub your nipple lightly above your baby's upper lip to promote the rooting response. Wait until your baby's mouth is wide open, then aim your nipple toward the roof of your baby's mouth while pulling baby quickly and gently toward your breast.
You will know that your baby has a good latch when all of your nipple, and as much of the areola as possible, are in the baby's mouth. You should be able to hear or see signs of milk transfer, such as swallowing. Your baby’s lips should be flanged, or turned out. Your baby's tongue should also be over his lower gum. A good latch is not painful for you, and your baby should be able to stay on your breast. Also, remember that a good latch takes practice. Be patient with yourself and your baby.
You should nurse until your baby shows signs of being full, including self-detaching from your breast, sucking less vigorously, or becoming sleepy and relaxed. Your breast will also feel less full.
To take your baby off your breast, slide your finger into the corner of the baby's mouth to break the suction. Do not pull the baby off your breast, as this may cause soreness to your nipple.
You should burp your baby between breasts and after a feeding to get rid of any air swallowed during feeding. Not all babies will burp within the first few days after birth.
The best way to ensure a good milk supply is to allow your baby to determine the frequency and duration of feedings. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water, get adequate rest, and eat nutritious foods.
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