Breastfeeding pattern; Nursing frequency
Expect that it may take 2 to 3 weeks for you and your baby to get into a breastfeeding routine.
Breastfeeding a baby on demand is full-time and exhausting work. Your body needs energy to produce enough milk. Be sure to eat well, rest, and sleep. Take good care of yourself so you can take good care of your baby.
Expect Your Breasts to Become Engorged
If your breasts become engorged:
Expect Your Baby to Nurse Often
During the first month:
During growth spurts:
You Will Make Enough Milk for Your Baby
Some mothers stop nursing during the first few days or weeks because they are afraid that they are not making enough milk. It may seem like your baby is always hungry. You do not know how much milk your baby is drinking, so you worry.
Know that your baby will nurse a lot when there is an increased need for breast milk. This is a natural way for baby and mother to work together to make sure there is enough milk.
Resist supplementing your baby's diet with formula feedings for the first 4 to 6 weeks.
You know that your baby is eating enough if your baby:
The frequency of feeding decreases with age as your baby eats more at each feeding. DO NOT get discouraged. You will eventually be able to do more than sleep and nurse.
Nursing at Night
You may find that keeping your baby in the same room with you, or in a room close by, helps you rest better. You can use a baby monitor so you can hear your baby cry.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you not sleep with your baby.
Expect your baby to nurse a lot at night when you go back to work.
Breastfeeding at night is ok for your baby's teeth.
The 6 O'clock Syndrome
Your baby may be fussy and nurse a lot in the late afternoon and evening. You and your baby are more tired by this time of day. Resist giving your baby a bottle of formula. This will decrease your milk supply at this time of day.
Your Baby's Stools
Your baby's bowel movements (stools) during the first 2 days will be black and tar-like (sticky and soft).
Breastfeed often during the first 2 days to flush this sticky stool out of your baby's bowels.
The stools then become yellow-colored and seedy. This is normal for a breastfed baby and is not diarrhea.
During the first month, your baby may have a bowel movement after each breastfeeding. DO NOT worry if your baby has a bowel movement after every feeding or every 3 days, as long as the pattern is regular and your baby is gaining weight.
Newton ER. Lactation and breastfeeding. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2017:chap 24.
Valentine CJ, Wagner CL. Nutritional management of the breastfeeding dyad. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013;60(1):261-274. PMID: 23178069 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23178069.
Review Date: 9/25/2018
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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