How To Tell If Breastfeeding Is Going Well
How can I tell that breastfeeding is going well and when to ask your midwife or lactation consultant for help. Even if you are not a first time mum, you will very likely ask your self the question ‘Am I doing this right? Is the baby getting enough milk?, Is my baby supposed to feed for this long?’, the list goes on.
Here are some great tips from NHS plus a few words from me, second time boobing mutha.
Breastfeeding is going well when your baby has at least 3-4 feeds during the first 24 hours and then 8 feeds or more each day. Talk to you midwife if you baby is sleepy and has had less than 3 feeds during the first 24 hours and then less than 6 feeds each day.
Both of my boys came out with assistance of ventuse, which made their head sore and first feeds somewhat difficult. They both became tired and sleepy which made further feeds even more difficult, plus with first one I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I know it is not recommended but a bit of formula worked for me. It meant they could just get their strength up and we could continue on our journey of breast-feeding. They also advise to try and express some colostrum on syringe to feed the baby if they are too sleepy in those first 24 hours. For me it was too hard, I could barely squeeze out a drop but it works greta for some mums. Remember, ask for advice if you are unsure about anything.
All is well if you baby is feeding for between 5 to 4o minutes at each feed. Talk to your midwife if your baby consistently feeds for less than 5 minutes or longer than 40 minutes at each feed.
I remember this question all that well, ‘how long is your baby feeding for,’ my answer ‘well I might get a 15 minute break if I am lucky’. I hope it is a bit easier for you as it can be overwhelming when your baby seems to be on the breast 24/7. It does get easier though. First 4-6 weeks are the hardest and when they work on their supply. So give them and your body time to adjust. You are doing fab!
Feeding is going well if your baby finishes the feed himself. Talk to your midwife if your baby always falls asleep on the breast and/or never finishes the feed himself.
Again you might be the lucky one that has a great feeder from first moments, my experience is very different and falling asleep on breast was a very common thing. Few tricks that helped me to keep them awake long enough to feed: tickling, blowing in their face, undressing so they are not too warm and cozy, gentle pinching to wake them up. Good luck if you have a booby sleeper, it can get a bit frustrating if it seems they fall asleep each time after few sucks, but again this is usually only in this every first weeks. It will pass mama, so hang in there .
Your baby will change from initial rapid sucks to slower, quiet sucks with pauses. Talk to your midwife if pattern of sucking doesn’t change from quick to slower and/or is noisy when feeding.
All is well if you can hear your 3-4 days old baby swallowing frequently during the feed. If you still cannot tell after 3-4 days if your baby is swallowing ask your midwife for advice.
It’s a great sign if you baby is generally calm and relaxed whilst feeding and is content after feeds. Ask for advice if you baby is coming off the breast frequently or refuses to feed. There are a lot of great tips if baby refuses to feed, but most of them sum up to be very patient. Give your baby time. Don’t get frustrated (easier said than done I know). Keep offering the boob but don’t force it. It is a big topic and there is a lot of advice out there so I feel this deserves a separate article. In the meantime try and breathe, relax, repeat, they will soon learn that breast is not their enemy.
If breastfeeding is comfortable you are doing it right. Ask for help if you are experiencing pain in breast or nipples which doesn’t disappear after first few sucks. Also ask for advice if your nipple looks pinched or flattened on one side after feeds.
From my experience, in first weeks while you are both learning a new skill, cracked and painful nipples are quiet common, get lanolin cream, tons of it, a life saver.
Wet and dirty nappies are a good indicator baby is having plenty of feeds. In first two days you should expect 1-2 wet nappies and one or more dark green/black stools (meconium). On days 3-4 you should expect 3 or more wet nappies which feel heavier and 2 or more stools changing in colour and consistency: brown/green/yellow, becoming looser. Talk to you midwife if your baby is not having wet and dirty nappies as expected.
Your baby should have normal skin colour, normal meaning it is not yellow which indicates jaundice. Talk to you midwife immediately if your baby appears jaundiced.
If you think your baby is not getting enough of milk and feel you should be topping up with formula ask for advice from your lactation consultant or midwife. In first six weeks babies will work on their supply and sometimes spend a lot of time on your breast while doing it, so if the weight gain is normal likely that you don’t need to introduce top ups.
Surround yourself with help from family and friends, and patience lots of it. Some babies latch perfectly from first moments and some just take longer to learn. Both of my boys were horrid in first six weeks. I could barely get of the sofa to go to the loo, my nipples were bleeding, boobs scratched, even got breast abscess with second one. Dear me it sounds like my boobs have been through war, and it certainly felt like that. But we made it, and so can you!