Your baby will need to feed often. The stomach cannot hold a lot at one time. It is only about the size of a chickpea at birth to the size of a walnut at day three.
Keep your baby close to you and watch for feeding cues such as stirring, stretching, moving hands to mouth, sucking, licking, rooting, rapid eye movement and waking. Crying is a late sign of hunger.
A drowsy period is a good time for your baby to start feeding. Watch for the stirring and stretching motions that happen before the baby is fully awake.
Offer the breast whenever your baby shows feeding signs, and at least 8 times in 24 hours. There may be periods of many small feeds over several hours, as called clusterfeeding. This helps to build up your milk supply. Some babies will feed 8-12 times in 24 hours and this is normal.
When should I change sides?
In the early days, you will need to offer both breasts at each feeding. This will help build your milk supply. It will also keep you more comfortable until your milk supply adjusts. Signs that your baby needs to move to the other side, or be burped, include: restlessness, letting go of the breast, falling asleep or sucking more than swallowing. Try burping the baby, then offer the other side.
At the next feed, start with the side you fed last. Aim to feed about the same amount at each breast by the end of the day.
When babies nurse well, their diapers need to be changed often. Count the number of diapers baby uses each day until you know your baby is gaining weight well. A diaper that is similar to one holding 3 tablespoons of water counts as one wet diaper. A diaper filled with “poop” counts as one “poopy” diaper. The minimum number of diapers to expect each day is:
Day 1 - 1 wet diaper - 1 poopy diaper
Day 2 - 2 wet diapers - 1 poopy diaper
Day 3 - 3 wet diapers - 1 poopy diaper
Day 4 - 4-5 wet diapers - 2 poopy diapers
Your milk is flowing well: 6 wet diapers, 2-3 or more poopy diapers
How does breastmilk keep my baby healthy?
Breastmilk is a living substance and it contains:
The milk is made in little sacs inside the breast. It comes through small tubes to the nipple. This area looks like the roots of a tree, with small ducts intertwined. When you hand express, your fingers will come together behind this area to push the milk through the nipple.
What amount of milk can I expect to express?
It takes 10-30 seconds of expressing before your brain can receive and transmit the message for your breasts to release your milk.
In the first days expect drops, and with practice sprays, can be collected. Hand expression is a learned skill, practice, practice.
**Use “hands - on” expression and pumping together**
“Hands- on pumping” is a breast massage and breast compression technique that is used while you are pumping and after you are done pumping. This can double the amount of breast milk you express or pump during each session.
Do I have to drink milk to make milk?
No. It is just easier to get calcium and vitamin D if you drink milk or eat milk products. If you do not drink milk, you may want to talk to your Public Health Nutritionist or a dietitian about other sources or supplements.
Nursing often is a physical activity that improves your body's metabolism the same way exercise does. It will also help stabilize your insulin levels if you have had gestational diabetes. Losing the weight you gained will happen more easily if you nurse often and avoid dieting as this may release toxins from you body into your breastmilk.
My baby is very fussy and gassy- can I use a soother?
Try to avoid a soother until breastfeeding is going well and you have a full milk supply- about 40 days. Babies need to breastfeed often in the early days to make lots of milk. If they use a soother, your milk supply could be less.
How do I store my Breastmilk?
Expressed breastmilk has properties to keep it safe for feeding up to 4 hours at room temperature. See guidelines for storage of breastmilk for longer periods.