The first few weeks with a newborn are a steep learning curve for new parents. Midwife Clare Boyle gives some breastfeeding tips for newborns.
How do I know when my baby is hungry and needs to feed?
Your baby will provide you with feeding cues to let you know that he or she is getting hungry. Look for baby bringing the hand to the mouth, opening the mouth as if to latch on, sticking the tongue out, turning the head towards the breast or trying to latch onto your finger, chin or nose! These are all early feeding cues – baby is letting you know that he or she is getting a bit peckish. Crying is a feeding cue that comes last and is often one you can’t ignore, however if you pick up the early feeding cue your baby probably won’t need to cry.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Keep an eye on the weight gain.
Monitoring how much weight your baby is gaining is a good indicator of how breastfeeding is going. The problem with this is that it isn’t convenient or that easy to do, as you have to go to your GP or public health nurse to get the baby weighed. Because of this, here are some methods that you can use at home as form of daily reassurance that all is going well. But it is good to understand what a breastfed baby’s weight gain should be.
1. The baby will be weighed at birth and this weight is the basis from which all the other weights will be measured. The baby will then be weighed at three days old and usually most babies will lose up to 7% of their birth weight -– this is normal and expected as they are pooing and peeing a lot and only taking in small amounts of colostrum. The baby will then be expected to return to birth weight by the second week (14 days).
2. A public health nurse will weigh the baby when she comes to do the home visit after you are discharged from hospital. This is usually around day five to seven, so this will give you an idea that your baby’s weight is moving back to the birth weight.
3. After your baby has regained the birth weight, the weight gain is usually around 5 – 7 ounces a week or about an ounce a day. In grams; 140g – 200g a week or around 20g a day. This weight gain pattern is expected to continue until about three to four months.
The clue is in the poos!
Monitoring your baby’s bowel movements is a convenient and handy way to ensure that baby is getting enough breast milk. As we can’t measure how much a baby is drinking with breastfeeding, it is necessary to have an easy guide to reassure us that baby is getting enough, one way of doing this is to monitor the output – the poos and pees. In the first few days after the birth the baby will poo a dark green tarry substance called meconium. Usually, the baby will do one or two poos of meconium each day for the first three days.
After the first three days the mature breast milk will be reaching the baby’s intestines and then the baby is expected to poo about three to five times in a 24-hour period and the poos should become a golden yellow colour. The baby should also be having about six to eight wet nappies a day – what the output shows us it that the baby is getting enough in to grow and put on weight and also enough to produce bowel movements and urine.
1. Your baby should be feeding at least eight times in a 24-hour period with each feed being at least ten minutes of active sucking.
2. Baby should be active and alert.
3. Your baby should have periods where he or she is active and alert. In each 24-hour period, there should be several five to 10 minute periods when your baby is awake and alert, these periods are called a ‘quiet alert state,’ and will become more frequent and last longer over the coming weeks.
4. Baby should be filling out and growing longer.
5. You will start to notice that your baby is growing out of his or her newborn baby clothes.
More you might like:
Burping your baby
Expressing breast milk
8 things to do while breastfeeding