A How-to Guide for Breastfeeding your Baby
Congratulations, Momma! Whether you baby is due any day now or has already arrived, you may be wondering about the ins and outs breastfeeding. Deciding how and what to feed your infant is an important decision that should fit your family's needs. Motherhood Advocate & Registered Nurse, Shannon Reich, provides clinical insight to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about breastfeeding from first-time moms.
Breastfeeding provides the nutrients and antibodies needed for healthy growth in your baby! It is also known to decrease illness in infants and lower their risk for certain diseases. Not only is breastfeeding great for your newborn, it also benefits the mother. It's proven to help lower the mother's risk for diabetes and certain types of cancer.
The first milk that a mother produces is called Colostrum—a yellow-colored milk filled with essential nutrients and antibodies and is easily digestible for your newborn baby. Your breastmilk will continue to change during first few weeks after childbirth until it becomes "mature" milk.
Feeding early and often will help your baby learn to suck while increasing your milk supply. Skin-to-skin contact is also very important in breastfeeding and bonding with your infant.
How Often to Breastfeed
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first 6 months to at least one year, but any length of breastfeeding is beneficial. Here are a few helpful facts to guide how often to breastfeed your baby:
- Infants should be fed 8-12 times a day. Keep an eye out for your baby's hunger cues, including sucking, bringing their fist to their mouth, turning their head towards your breast, or crying.
- Moms can keep track of their infants feeding and their milk output using a log that tracks when their baby last ate, on which side, and the number of wet or stool diapers.
- By day 3 post-childbirth, your baby should have 5-6 wet diapers and 3 bowel movements a day.
- To ensure your baby is feeding enough, check to make sure your baby has steady weight gain and appears content after feedings.
Common Breastfeeding Questions
What are some of the best holds for breastfeeding?
View 5 typical breastfeeding positions.
What should I do if I have low milk supply or plugged ducts?
Learn how to overcome common breastfeeding challenges.
How long does breastmilk stay fresh?
View OASH's guide to storing breastmilk.
Breastfeeding is no easy feat, so support is key! Be sure to meet with your hospital's lactation consultant to assess your baby's ability to latch and suck prior heading home. It's important to inquire about who you can call with any questions. The National Women's Health and Breastfeeding Helpline is completely free and can be reached at 1-800-994-9662 with any questions in both English and Spanish. Build a strong support system of family and friends to help once you and your little one get home, as getting rest and taking care of yourself is just as important as caring for your baby. Most importantly, be patient with yourself and your baby as you navigate the new world of breastfeeding!
Acenda Cares for Moms
Our team of Motherhood & Family Advocates provide pregnancy and child development resources for new and expectant parents from prenatal care through kindergarten. We're here to help answer your questions and provide useful pregnancy and parenting support when you need it most. Best of all, our resources and support services are completely free for all families.