Robyn's Nest Home Page
Home Page

General Guidelines to Breast-Feeding

(Breast-Feeding Basics)


Robyn's Nest Related Topics
Breast Feeding-Common Problems
Signs of Needed Intervention
Home Remedies - Engorgement Relief
Breast Feeding Do's and Don'ts
Food Sensitivities
Birth - 3 Months

Breast feeding GuidelinesThe principles of breast-feeding are very simple and very essential for you to know.
The more you breast-feed, the more milk you make.
The less you breast-feed, the less milk you make.

The infant’s sucking stimulates the breasts to produce more milk. When the baby is given a bottle to allow mom to skip a feeding, sleep all night, or be away from the baby, and does not pump her breasts, her body will usually begin to slow down production. Conversely, when baby is hungry or growing more than usual, he or she will want to nurse more often. It is the law of supply and demand.

Lets answer the most common questions.

When do I start?

The best beginning is to be able to take advantage of the first wakeful period of your baby’s life right after birth for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Introduce him to your breast on the delivery table or bed. Babies initiated at this time make good nursers later on when they wake enough to nurse again hours or even a day later. (Mom’s medication may have made baby sleepy.)

This has several other benefits as well:

           -   Suckling stimulates uterine contractions to help expel the placenta.
           -   It helps control excessive blood loss from the uterus when it contracts.
           -   Baby gets early benefits of colostrum immunologic factors.
           -   Colostrum begins to clean out baby’s intestine so it works correctly, more quickly, and reduces the possibility of developing Newborn Jaundice in 2-4 days.

breast feeding basicsHow do I start?

Unless you have had painkillers and other strong medications during the birthing process, the baby should wake 6-8 hours after birth and begin to nurse. This varies, of course, but as long as you and the baby are together, you can see when baby wakes and is ready to latch on.

Latching-on is sometimes a normal phenomenon and sometimes has to be assisted in order to occur.

If baby is lethargic and/or a poor feeder, please read under the subject heading called Signs of Needed Intervention.

Hospital policies often require babies to swallow something after four hours from birth and will force feed formula if baby is not breast-feeding.

Both you and the doctor need to know if baby swallows and eliminates normally. Conditions that prevent these functions can be very serious.

This is also a wonderful time to begin bonding with your newborn. This natural and instinctive process is actually a two-way attachment between the infant, who needs to learn how to trust someone to take care of her, and the parent, someone willing to accept and care for this little helpless and vulnerable child totally and unconditionally.

Again, it is Mother Nature at her best. For some the bond is instant. For others it develops over time.

How do I know my baby is getting enough?

A reassuring signal that baby is getting something is when you can hear them swallow. His or her little stomach is about the size of a walnut and does not need more than a couple of teaspoons of colostrum every 1 to 2 hours.

Other reassuring signs are wet diapers and a few stools.

The first stools are tarry black (meconium), then greenish, then lumpy and turning to the normal yellow-light brown color in a few days. Breast milk stools are relatively loose, curdish and odorless.

After the milk supply comes in and is established about 5-10 days after birth, you can begin to count wet diapers.

The baby should have a minimum of 6-8 wet diapers and 3-4 stools in 24 hours. The baby may have small stools with almost every diaper at first and they will be soft. Later on, the amount will change and they will be much less frequent, but they too will be soft, easy to pass and not too hard on the nose.

How often do I nurse?

“ Nursing-on-demand” means breast-feeding when baby is hungry, around the clock, day and night.

When your infant begins to sleep for longer periods of time, so will you. It also means waking your newborn up every three hours, day and night, especially if he or she is less than average weight. This really is for just a very short period of time in a lifetime of parenting, but an essential one for your baby’s well-being. It just seems like forever at 3 am.

If you feel your baby has a very strong need to suck over and above just for nutrition and you are feeling particularly tied down or exhausted satisfying this need, a pacifier might be the answer.

Pacifiers come in different shapes and sizes, so you may need to try different types before finding the one that your little one takes to.

Do not substitute the pacifier for good nutritional breast-feeding.

How do I know if she is nursing and not just sleeping?

Babies suckle in bursts, stopping and starting, resting and working. When your milk comes in the baby will nurse vigorously and later suck slowly and rest in between. Remember too that most babies have a need to just suckle. My personal theory is that the babies who are allowed to satisfy this sucking need as infants are less likely to need to suck on cigarettes as adults. Of course, this is still just a theory.

What does breast milk look like?

The first pre-milk or colostrum is clear to yellow, a little thicker and is higher in proteins.

This turns to white when the milk supply comes in. Then there are two distinct characteristics.

The first milk that comes out when baby nurses on side number one is low fat and looks just like when put in a bottle. This “foremilk” is to satisfy baby’s thirst.

The second side will produce milk higher in calories and fat to satisfy hunger and is called “hindmilk.”

This is why you need to feed from both sides. If he is getting only one side he will not gain weight as well and will drive you crazy by wanting to nurse all the time.

How long do I breast-feed?

Do you mean in minutes, months or years? Good question!

A common pattern is like this: The first side is 10 to 15 minutes. Break the suction with your finger in the little tike’s mouth. It won't hurt him or you, unless he has a full set of teeth and is still nursing at age six. The second side can be nursed for as long as baby likes or until the doorbell rings. Be sure to burp your baby between breasts.

How many days, weeks or months can I breast-feed?

This is between you, your baby and your life-style. Not too many moms can stay home as long as they would like any more. Personally, I feel if you can breast-feed for a few months, this is great. Then go back to work.

And what if it is only for a few weeks? Wonderful. You have given your baby a good start.

What if you stop after only a few days? You have given you baby something no one else in world could give - your colostrum with all it's incredible immunity factors and you have given your best try. Two marvelous gifts.

Can I go back to work, school or can I travel and still breast-feed baby?

Of course. Breast-feeding babies and travel go together. Just pick up enough diapers, bottom wipers, clothes and you are ready to go. The same for going to school. All you need is access to the baby so you can nurse on demand. Thousands of breast-feeding babies go to school and college with their moms every year. They tend to be content and happy babies.

Going to work takes a little more preparation:

           -   Buy or rent a good breast pump and learn how to use it. Freeze the milk in plastic bottles or bags.
           -   Find a private place to pump milk during a break or two at work. Many employers may be willing to find a place for you and your pump. Refrigerate the milk and take it home for the baby-sitter to use the next day.
           -   Be prepared for your baby to want to nurse more during the night and sleep more in the day. Your baby just wants to be with you and she knows what she likes.
           -   Don't be tempted to buy formula - remember the Law of Supply and Demand.

What if my baby never establishes a routine?

This means your baby is normal. Routines are for bottle fed babies as they tend to feed every 4 hours. Some moms find that feeding formula on demand or when the little one is hungry works well for their child. Especially in breast feeding, it is necessary to watch your baby and not the clock. Of course there are some babies who can be assisted in establishing a good pattern.

One way to establish a good pattern is to nurse one side when baby first wakes up. Then burp and change the diaper to wake the little one up in order to nurse the second side. Your baby is now full and dry and will sleep better and longer. This can work beautifully in the middle of the night if you keep only the night-light on, with no talking, singing or radio noises - only baby business allowed.

Also, If baby is allowed to go to sleep sometimes by themselves in his or her bed, they will be less likely to wail four seconds after you remove them from warm, soft you onto a cold hard mattress.

What if my breasts leak?

This is actually a good sign, irritating as it is standing in line at the checkout counter. It means you have established not only a good milk supply but you and your baby need each other, the way Mother Nature intended for babies to survive and be well.

OK, so there you are standing in line. Somebody’s baby cries and you feel the area just behind your nipples begin to tingle and tighten and you know the deluge is coming. This is called a “let-down response”. What you do is quickly fold your arms and press in on your breasts. If you're writing a check at the time this may be a little difficult to camouflage. Accidentally flip your pen at the cashier and while she is trying to find it you can look impatient with your arms crossed tightly. Who would know you are anything other than a little clumsy? Don't forget to apologize, graciously. By the way, breastmilk dries quickly and doesn't stain.

What do I eat or not eat?

For more information see Nutrition and Dieting During Breast-feeding. The best guidelines are easy to remember.

           -   You can eat just about anything in moderation. Don't overdo on any one food, such as lots of milk, dairy products, cabbage, onions, chocolate, spices, etc.
           -   Drink plenty of fluids, water, juice, mild and non caffeine drinks.
           -   Do eat one extra nutritious meal a day such as a sandwich and milk, fruit and cheese.
           -   Do not try to lose weight at this time. It may come off naturally when you eat normally again
           -   Drink something every time you sit down to nurse the baby. You will be thirsty.

What if I have to wean from breast-feeding?

Do it slowly and with love.

Substitute a bottle for one or two feedings a day to begin and gradually increase to more bottles over a two or more weeks.

Save baby’s favorite nursing times for the last to go. This method helps mom too so that the milk will gradually be reduced and discomfort will be minimal.

Milk will remain to a small extent and can be fully reinstated for at least 6 months after weaning in cases of emergency such as infant illness or allergic reactions to food, formula and cows milk. For more information on weaning for babies of different age groups see Weaning.

Robyn's Nest Related Topics
Breast Feeding-Common Problems
Signs of Needed Intervention
Home Remedies - Engorgement Relief
Breast Feeding Do's and Don'ts
Food Sensitivities
Birth - 3 Months


Robyn's Nest Quick Link

You can also do a Keyword Search


Robyn's Nest


About parents babies Advertise mom baby Jobs pregnancy Legal child birth Privacy toddlersIn the News/Awards

© 1996-2010 by NYBOR, LLC All rights reserved.
All material on this Internet site is protected by U.S. and international copyrights. Only personal use of such material is permitted. By accessing this page and this site, you expressly agree and consent to the foregoing terms and conditions.

Breast Feeding Basics


Bookmark and Share