Hungry newborns set their own breastfeeding schedule. For the first few weeks of your baby's life, your newborn may want to breastfeed every one-and-a-half hours, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, while other babies can go three hours between feedings. Don't worry about the specific amount of breast milk your baby is getting, says the Mayo Clinic. More important is the frequency and length of your newborn's feedings and if your baby seems healthy and content.
Newborns: What To Expect
If you and your baby are both in good health after delivery, the AAP states that it's best for you to breastfeed within the first hour. While you're recovering post-childbirth, keep your newborn close to you, advises the AAP. Study the signals he gives that indicate hunger and respond to them by breastfeeding as soon as possible.
Newborns breastfeed, on average, every two to three hours, anywhere from eight to 12 times each day. Your baby should not go without a feeding for more than four hours, says the Nemours Foundation, because of risk of dehydration. Feedings generally last 15 to 20 minutes, says the Mayo Clinic. Start with one breast first, then burp your baby. Offer him the second breast. If he's still hungry, he'll latch onto the nipple. After the first few days, your newborn's breastfeeding schedule will fall into a more predictable pattern.
The Mayo Clinic indicates that your baby should gain four to seven ounces of weight each week during the first month of life. Signs that your baby isn't getting enough breast milk include lack of normal weight gain, fewer than six to eight wet diapers each day, lack of regular bowel movements, lethargy and lack of interest in breastfeeding. Contact your pediatrician if you suspect that your infant isn't getting appropriate nutrition.
Other Foods and Supplements
Breast milk is abundant in nutrition, but it lacks one thing: vitamin D. Your baby needs this essential nutrient to grow strong, healthy bones. The Mayo Clinic advises asking your pediatrician if vitamin D supplements are necessary. During the first four to six months of life, breast milk is the only source of sustenance your infant needs until he begins to transition to soft solid foods. The AAP advises that you breastfeed for at least six months after your baby is born.
Expressed or Frozen Breast Milk
If you're a working mom or feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in social situations, you can express breast milk and use it for subsequent feedings. The AAP advises using containers specifically approved for storing breast milk rather than formula bags. Fresh breast milk can remain at room temperature for no longer than four hours; refrigerated milk should be used within 48 hours, says the AAP. If you won't need the milk in the next couple of days, you can also freeze it for at least thee months. The AAP suggests freezing two to four ounces of breast milk per container. Thaw it in a bowl of warm water--not the microwave.
The Mayo Clinic states that your baby likely won't consume the same amount of breast milk each day. He'll go through periods of rapid growth, typically 10 days to two weeks after birth, and then again at three weeks, six weeks, three months and six months. During these times, he may require longer, more frequent feedings. The Mayo Clinic advises keeping yourself healthy while you're breastfeeding. Eat a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid soda pop and caffeinated beverages. Don't smoke, use medications only with your doctor's permission and get as much rest as you can.
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