breastfeeding advice
Feeding

Breastfeeding tips for newborns

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.

breastfeeding advice

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.

Feeding often

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

Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.

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Ask Allison

Q My sister-in-law and I both work three-day weeks and we help each
other out with child minding on our working days, which up until recently has worked out really well. Between us, our kids are aged between five and nine years – the problem is that it’s now become quite apparent that we have very different parenting styles. I prefer my two daughters (seven and nine) to have a structured day. For example, in my house, we have allocated times for television and iPads, etc. My sister-in-law, however, lets the kids run loose after school – homework is ignored and my kids end up wired after eating sugary treats all afternoon. I am considering looking at after-school childcare for the kids, but I’m worried that this is going to cause a family argument. Is there a diplomatic way that I can ask my sister-in-law to introduce some discipline into her child-minding days? It certainly doesn’t do her two kids any harm when I am minding them in my own house!

A
In a word, no, there is no diplomatic way to do this as it may very likely seem like your saying that your parenting style is better than
hers. As L’Óreal says, ‘now here comes the science bit.’ Dr. Kaylene
Henderson, a child psychiatrist, wrote a very interesting blog about ‘the
science behind the Mummy Wars’. She explains that before she had
children of her own she hadn’t been aware of how parents have a
very specific sense of the right parenting style. She also found that parents could be very definite in defending their chosen parenting style. Dr. Henderson, who describes herself as a curious, scientific, open-minded person, was surprised at how defensive parents could be and, at times, of their judgemental attitude towards each other. She explained the neurology of the Mummy Wars; okay, I’ll need you to bear with me for a second. Warning; I’m about to use some neuro-techie language.

Why do we judge each other?
As we have all had different experiences, this means that we all have very different memories stored in our brains. Most of our memories are ‘explicit’ memories – these are ones that we can recall easily such as important dates that mean something to us; important birthdays, special events or stories of and about our lives.
There is another type of memory called ‘implicit’ memory that plays a
key role in our parenting. This type of memory is the stuff that you do on autopilot. Psychologists call these heuristics or rules of thumb –
such as tying your shoelace, or driving your car (once you have learnt
to do both first!). Otherwise we’d really waste a huge amount of time
pondering over tasks that we have readily available to us. This seems to be where the science bit of our parenting style kicks in. This implicit memory goes all the way back to when you were an infant being parented by your parents. This is when you started the process of storing up how they did it into your memories.
Unless you make a conscious choice and effort to parent differently, what you saw and unconsciously learnt will be your automatic go-to parenting style.

We learn habits
This can really kick into gear when we feel our parenting style is
being mirrored or highlighted by disapproval from another parent. I know the cold sweat you feel when your child decides to make their outstanding bad behaviour performance at, of course, the most public and worst time. The implicit autopilot of how your parents dealt with these outbursts will flow unconsciously from you if you haven’t worked super hard to be aware and consciously change the old habits.
What’s happening for the on-looking parent is that they see you doing something they are used to doing, but you are doing it all wrong. Simply, because that is not how they know how to do it.

Find a way that works
You both have different parenting styles – who is to say which type is correct? You just need to know what works best for your family and that’s the bottom line. The irksome feelings won’t go away. You can talk to your sister-in-law, but I’m adding a caveat that it would be hard not to hurt her feelings. What we’re possibly looking at is that you prefer a more structured form of parenting, whereas your sister-in-law has a more permissive style. I’m not sure the two styles can mix, the mixture is a bit like oil and water.
If a collaborative shared form of parenting style can be agreed upon, then that is great, but our learnt hardwiring may prove difficult to change despite the intent to do so.
Perhaps, your own instinct of changing childcare might work best for you. In terms of making childcare work; the fit is ultimately the most
important aspect as you want a cohesive congruent feeling of the other caregiver to just ‘getting it’, like in any good partnership. Best of luck
with this and I wish you both well.