In the first month of life, early and frequent feedings lay the foundation for successful breastfeeding. On average, it takes 3-5 days for a mother’s milk to come in. Until then, breastfed babies are anticipated to lose weight, and the primary goal of nursing is to hasten the production of milk. The more frequently babies nurse, the sooner the milk comes in. As such, newborns need to feed 8-12 times each day (approximately every 2-3 hours) in the first weeks of life to ensure adequate milk supply and weight gain.
Newborns will typically nurse for approximately 20-40 minutes per feeding - but remember this is only a guideline as some babies are more vigorous and others prefer to “graze”. The best measures of successful nursing include good weight gain (and not too much weight loss in the first 3-4 days), multiple yellow and seedy stools daily, maternal sense of good breast emptying, and parental sense of the baby’s satisfaction and well-being
The initiation of breastfeeding your infant does not always go smoothly. It is important to make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids to help ensure adequate milk supply. For some mothers, nutritional supplements (like Mother’s Milk tea and Fenugreek) may be indicated. In addition, using a breast pump can help stimulate milk supply. Our lactation consultants and physicians can help you determine whether either of these are required.
Engorgement may occur at different degrees between day 3-5 of life. Breastfeeding your baby frequently is the ideal way to help relieve engorgement. Applying a warm compress to the breast or taking a hot shower prior to feeding may be helpful. Between feedings, cold compresses should be applied to the breasts; a bag of frozen peas in your bra works great!
While the initiation of breastfeeding often goes smoothly, it may take up to one month for the baby and mother to become a successful breastfeeding team! We at Westwood-Mansfield Pediatrics are prepared to support you in your quest. We welcome the opportunity to discuss any and all breastfeeding issues and encourage families to call with any and all questions.
You can do it.