Feeds are not just for nutrition, they can also give comfort and reassurance to your baby.
Feed your baby when they start showing signs of hunger. This makes sure your baby is getting what they need. It also helps you to build up a good milk supply. As your baby is building up a supply, they will want to spend lots of time at the breast. This is called 'responsive breastfeeding' and is normal.
In the early days, 10 to 12 feeds a day (24 hours) is common. As your baby’s stomach gets bigger and they take more milk at each feed, this can reduce to 8 or more feeds a day.
As your baby gets older, they will get better at taking the amount of milk they need from the breast. This means that feeds may get a little shorter and your baby may settle quicker.
How to tell if your baby is getting enough breast milk
Changing feeding patterns
Within a few weeks you may start to notice a feeding pattern emerging. This will make life a bit easier to plan.
You will know that feeding is going well when your baby is:
- satisfied and happy after most feeds
- bright, alert and active when awake
- settling and sleeping after some feeds during the day or night
- having plenty of wet and dirty nappies
- gaining weight
Settling your baby
Some ways of settling your baby will work better at different times of the day or night. Remember every baby is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Do not be afraid to ask family and friends for help settling a fussy baby.
If you find your baby is fussy during or between feeds, try the following:
- spend time on skin-to-skin contact
- talk to your baby gently
- play music in the background
- dance slowly with your baby in your arms
- play white noise in the background - this could be the vacuum, washing machine, radio static or running water
- rock them gently from side to side or in a rocking chair
- a change of scenery - move to a different room
- low lighting
- a relaxing bath
- a walk outdoors, if weather allows
- use a baby sling rather than a pram - being in an upright position and close to you can give them comfort
Mum Bernadette describes the first few weeks of breastfeeding
Mum Bernadette describes how she found the first few weeks of breastfeeding tough.
Breastfeeding support groups are a good place to get advice on breastfeeding and meet other mothers.
Breastfeeding support groups are run by:
- lactation consultants (IBCLCs)
- public health nurses
- La Leche League leaders
- Cuidiú breastfeeding counsellors
- Friends of Breastfeeding