Initially, your baby may not feed at regular intervals. Please don't panic, as this is quite natural. You can feed your baby whenever she cries, irrespective of space between feeds. This natural feeding method is known as demand feeding. The important thing is that the baby be allowed to suck at the breast without restriction; she should be able to feed whenever she wants and for as long as she wants.
In the beginning, the interval between two feeds can be approximately 2 to 3 hours as she can consume only small portions. The duration of your baby’s feed may vary from less than 5 minutes to 20 minutes or more. This will depend upon the flow of breast milk as well as the individual needs of your baby. If your milk is flowing adequately, your baby will be satisfied soon. If not, she may take a little longer, especially if she decides to take a snooze in the middle of feeding. Try not to fix any rigid timing or follow a regimental, artificially systematized timing to feed your baby as there is no place for clock watching here.
By the end of the second month, the feeding patterns established in the early days can change suddenly and inexplicably. As the days pass, your little one will begin to establish a routine. As her appetite increases, the feeds will get longer and gradually the gap between two feeds will also increase.
Simultaneously, your breast milk will also match these new feeding demands. Evolution has provided mothers with the ability to produce as much milk as their baby requires. So, even if you find it difficult to breast-feed your little one initially, try and be patient and do not give up easily. The way to make breast-feeding a success is to continue to breast-feed despite all odds, as the production of milk in the breasts is dependent upon the amount your baby feeds.
Most paediatricians recommend breast-feeding infants for a year, out of which the first six months, the baby should be exclusively breast-fed and then gradually weaned over the next six months.
Proper positioning of your baby will help to enhance feeding. Snuggle your little one close to you with her chin skimming your breast and the rest of her body facing you. Make yourself comfortable, put on some soft music if it helps you relax and feed your baby in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, as stress and anxiety may decrease the production of milk. Your vulnerable little one is extremely sensitive to the environment. She can feel your stress and this will also affect her feeding.
Signs of proper feeding
Once your newborn starts feeding, she will close her eyes blissfully switching off visual signs and will submerge herself totally in the comfort of your arms and taste the rewards of feeding. When she is satiated, she will usually push the nipple out of her mouth and gurgle merrily. This infantile gesture will clearly indicate that the baby is no longer hungry.
Feeding from both breasts
It is important to feed your baby from both the breasts. Most paediatricians recommend that once your baby has adjusted to breast feeding, she should be fed for 20 minutes at each breast, as this will also be more comfortable for you. If you are constantly feeding from one breast, the other one will remain heavy.
Burp your baby once half way through the feed and then again after the feed is over. This helps release any wind that has been swallowed by the baby during feeding or crying. However, if your baby falls asleep while feeding, do not disturb her slumber. Put her on her side and not on her stomach or back and gently pat her back to allow the wind to escape. Some milk may also run out of your baby's mouth with this burp. This is normal and there is no need to worry about it, unless the baby looks uncomfortable. Wipe it off with a clean napkin and continue feeding, if you are halfway through the feed. Sometimes babies burp automatically during the feed. This is a sign that the baby is full. It is not necessary to burp the baby again, in such a situation.
Alternatives to breast-feeding
Sometimes large amounts of milk are produced two or three days after delivery but it may also take a while for your baby to get used to sucking and her efforts may cause sore nipples, preventing you from nursing. You may also be recovering from surgery and not in a position to breast-feed immediately.
At such times, you can still feed your baby breast milk by expressing the milk and refrigerating it till it is required. Breast milk can be safely stored for 4 to 6 hours at room temperature and 24 hours, in a refrigerator. It is imperative to pay meticulous attention to hygiene. Always remember to warm the milk in a sterilised container, before feeding it to your baby.
Paediatricians recommend breast milk as their first choice because it contains valuable antibodies that strengthen baby's delicate immune system. However, in case you have lesser quantity of breast milk secretion, do not be anxious or feel guilty about it, as this may only be a temporary phase. Consult your paediatrician as she will know what infant formula is best for your baby. These substitutes will help take care of your baby's nutrient requirements.
Other related articles on this :
Daily Food Guide for Toddlers
Guide to Weaning
Best food for feeding Mothers to get more milk
Components of Breast Milk
Recipes for Baby (10 to 12 Months)
We would love to hear from you if you liked the article. Please post your comments. Thanks!