The cues you can use for breastfeeding

Nothing matches the birth of a child for anticipation and sheer joy. At least for a few fleeting moments and then nothing matches the exhaustion that follows. Mom needs a good nap.

But just as she finally gets her chance to rest, someone knocks on the hospital door. A well-meaning nurse comes in and says it’s time for feeding. Often times for parents that’s when sheer panic ensues. Your baby is not latching on to your breast and your child is not getting any milk.

I usually spend the next morning, while making my rounds, to ease the parents’ fears and give them some information about breastfeeding.

Your baby can fool you right after the birth. The infant often has this sort of awake, alert phase right after delivery and usually latches on pretty well. Then after an hour or two, the baby is just sleepy and can remain that way for several days.

This is where I try to keep people from panicking. Often during that phase, I urge the parents to watch for the baby’s interested cues. When your baby is kind of looking around or gnawing on his or her hand or making snacking noises, that’s the best time for latching on to take place. Other times the baby may latch on and just nibble, before drifting back off to sleep again. That’s actually a normal feeding at that stage again.

At the hospital, all of the hospitals regardless of where you go, nurses are supposed to encourage you to breastfeed the baby every three or four hours or so. Well babies don’t read that manual. They may feed every two hours or it can be every 12 hours at that stage.

As I wrote in a previous blog, the most important thing a mom can do during this time is to get her rest. Moms, you are going to be plenty busy at home and you aren’t going to have that kind nurse watching out for you. You’ll have a kind mom or mother-in-law there maybe, which is all the more reason to get your rest now.

But just know the nursing will happen. Your baby isn’t going to starve and only requires the colostrum (early milk rich in antibodies to help the baby’s immunity) in the first three or four days.

The colostrum is just a squirt. It is really just an eighth of a teaspoon with both breasts combined. It is not milk and whether the baby eats on the dot, every three hours over a 24-hour period, your child would still only get about a teaspoon.

In general, on the first day, put 10 minutes maximum aside for each breast. The colostrum is gone in five to seven minutes, so going longer isn’t really going to get your baby much more nutrition. Sometimes it can be off and on suck, so you have to guestimate what really 10 minutes is.

On day two, go to 12 minutes a side and on day three and four work up to 15 minutes a side, which is all you really need to do.

I let new mothers know when they begin to breastfeed it’s really obvious when your milk comes in. It’s not subtle at all. You aren’t going to miss that. That’s when I recommend trying to get the baby to eat every two to three hours during the day.

Attempting to breastfeeding can be frustrating for moms. But the benefits of breastfeeding are so worth the effort. Just stay patient … and get your rest.

Audrey Rogers, M.D.,  is located at 3200 Riverfront Drive, Ste. 103, Fort Worth, TX 76107. To make an appointment with her or one of her partners, call 817-336-3800. Like her on Facebook.

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