In the beginning, it can feel like you're doing nothing but feeding.
First of all, do know that frequent feeding is normal and expected in the early months – most newborns need to feed at least 8 – 12 times per day. Breastfeeding and cuddles with mum and partner are a big comfort to little people out in the big world. Keeping your baby calm by responding to them and picking them up, will help them to feel secure and loved.
Frequent feeds help to reduce engorgement in the early days and to nourish and grow a baby who has a very small stomach but who needs to double his weight within five to six months. It also helps to establish a good milk supply, as well as helping your baby to adjust to life in the outside world. Gradually you and your baby will get into a pattern, and the amount of milk you produce will settle down.
In the early weeks, 'topping up' with formula milk or giving your baby a dummy can lower your milk supply.
It's important to breastfeed at night because this is when you produce more hormones (prolactin) to build up your milk supply. For more information on feeding at night and safe sleep see La Leche's safe sleep the breastfed baby.
For more information please see Breastfeeding first days from NHS.uk.
With the right information and support, most breastfeeding mothers will make plenty of breast milk and their babies will be contented and thrive. Frequent feeds can be a sign of inefficient milk transfer or low milk supply, but if baby has lots of wet and dirty nappies, is gaining weight well and is generally happy and healthy, then the frequent feeds are unlikely to be a sign of a problem. See ‘How can I tell breastfeeding is going well?’ page for more information and a checklist to reassure yourself all is well.
Breast compression is a technique often recommended to keep babies actively drinking at the breast. It is a way of gently squeezing the breast during a breastfeed to put pressure on the milk glands causing them to release more milk and increase milk flow. Breast compression simulates a milk let-down (milk ejection reflex). Increasing milk flow in this way encourages a baby to keep sucking actively because he will be rewarded with more milk and this makes for more effective breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding after a c section
- If your baby arrives early or unwell
- How do I get my baby attached and feeding effectively?
- How can I tell if breastfeeding is going well
- Why am I finding it painful?
- Why is my baby feeding all the time?
- Breastfeeding challenges
- Baby blues
- Will I ever sleep again?
- What can partners or others do to help (instead of giving a bottle)
- Expressing milk