The first few weeks of breastfeeding can feel quite overwhelming. It’s a learning time for both you and your baby, each of you getting a feel for each other. Your baby is slowly discovering how to breastfeed and find comfort outside the security of your womb. You are learning how to communicate with your baby and offer comfort and nourishment. Be patient with yourself and your baby; it will get easier, particularly once your milk supply becomes established. Having questions is normal. Trust your instincts, but also try to prepare yourself by understanding what to expect in the first few weeks. Below we’ve compiled some breastfeeding basics and tips from Day 1 to Week 6. What to Expect Your milk production grows from about 1 ounce (30 mL) to about 30 ounces (900 mL) between Days 1 and 40. Most mothers start to make noticeably more milk starting around Day 3 or 4. Your baby should be back to birth weight by 2 weeks. You can then expect baby to gain about 7 ounces (210 g) per week or 2 lbs (900 g) per month. Most babies feed 8-12 times per day, but not at set times. They may bunch feedings close together for part of the day (cluster feed). Your baby may want to feed again soon after breastfeeding. This is normal in the beginning. By Day 3-5, baby’s black stools (meconium) turn first green, then yellow. You can then expect 3 or more yellow stools every day. Also, expect 5-6 or more wet diapers a day by Day 5. If your breasts feel very full, breastfeed more or express milk. This will make you feel better, not worse. Most babies sleep for one 4-5 hour stretch each day. This may not happen at night, unfortunately. Fun Facts A baby’s stomach stretches from the size of a shooter marble on Day 1 to a chicken egg by Day 10. Babies may take one breast at a feeding, or they may need to feed on both breasts. Let your baby decide. Drained breasts make milk faster. Full breasts make milk slower. Breastfeed only if possible. Avoid pacifiers and any other liquids General Breastfeeding Tips Breastfeed whenever your baby wants to. You’ll know it’s time when your baby’s head turns from side to side with an open mouth. Or when she puts her hand to her mouth. Ideally, don’t wait until your baby fusses or cries. When upset, it’s harder to feed well. Use a position that feels good for you and your baby. Learn to sleep while you breastfeed. Practice during the day. If breastfeeding hurts, get help. A small change in how your baby takes the breast may be all you need to feel better. Find a mother’s group near you and spend time with other breastfeeding mothers. We are stronger together! You Know You Have Plenty of Milk When Baby is gaining weight well on breast milk alone. 0-4 months: 7 ounces (210 g) a week or 2 lbs. (900g) a month When to Seek Help If breastfeeding hurts. If your baby loses more than 10% of birth weight or after Day 4, gains weight too slowly. Even when breastfeeding is going well, you may experience some of the following: Your baby has fussy times – Most babies do. She wants to feed again soon after breastfeeding -Most babies do. She wants to feed more often – This adjusts your milk production Your breasts no longer feel full – Usually at about 3-4 weeks She wants to feed less often or for a shorter time – Babies get faster with practice Frequent night feedings – Babies need to do this to get enough milk She will take a bottle after breastfeeding – Babies like to suck, this might not be related to milk supply You can’t express much milk – This skill takes practice One thing that we can not stress enough is, be patient with yourself. Breastfeeding is natural but it’s also a skill, and like all skills there is a learning curve involved. You are not expected to know it all and there is no shame in asking for help and reaching out. Seek out the support you need. Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Consultant, Ameda Breastfeeding ProductsCoauthor of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers
In the early weeks of breastfeeding, you may experience sore or tender nipples. Tender nipples from breastfeeding are normal during the first week or two. Establishing a proper latch from the start will minimize nipple soreness and help you and your baby get the most from your breastfeeding experience. Your breastfeeding comfort depends on where your nipple lands in baby’s mouth, and that depends on how your baby takes the breast, or latches on. Learning the correct latch takes practice for both you and baby and can be the difference between a painful, or wonderful, breastfeeding experience. To understand this better, use your tongue to feel the roof of your mouth. Behind your teeth are ridges, and behind those ridges the roof of your mouth feels hard. When your nipple is pressed against this hard area in your baby’s mouth, it can hurt. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a Lactation consultant. The “Comfort Zone” Further back in your mouth the roof turns from hard to soft. Near this is the area some call “the comfort zone.” Once your nipple reaches your baby’s comfort zone, there is no undue friction or pressure on your nipple and breastfeeding can become a pleasant experience. Laid Back Approach To make this happen, let gravity do the lion’s share of the work. • Lean back with good neck, shoulder, and back support and move your hips forward. • Lay your baby tummy-side down between your exposed breasts. When your now calm but hungry baby feels your body against their chin, torso, legs, and feet, it will trigger their inborn feeding reflexes. And as their chin touches your body, their mouth will open and they will begin to search for your breast. In these “laid-back positions,” gravity will help your nipple reach the comfort zone. Alternative Positions In other positions, you may need to work a little harder to help encourage a good latch and bring your nipple more deeply into your baby’s mouth to find that comfort zone. Use the following tips to help get your nipple to where you want it to be: • With your baby’s body pressed firmly against you and their nose in line with your nipple, let their head tilt back a bit (avoid pushing on the back of her head). • Allow their chin to touch your breast, then move away. • Repeat the first two steps until their mouth opens really wide, like a yawn. • As they move onto the breast chin first, gently press your baby’s shoulders from behind for a deeper latch. That last gentle shove will help your nipple reach the comfort zone. Breastfeeding tends to feel better when your baby latches on off-center, so the lower jaw lands far away from the nipple. Sore Cracked Nipples In the process of mastering the latch, you may experience pain and sore cracked nipples. If you feel nipple tenderness or discomfort, gel pads can prevent clothing friction and help soothe and heal your nipples. When choosing a gel pad, look for ones that you can wear in your bra like a nursing pad and that won’t stain your clothing. It is also worth investing in a good lanolin cream to provide immediate relief and soothe your sore nipples. We suggest choosing a cream that is natural and hypoallergenic so it’s safe for your baby. This way there is no need to remove it prior to breastfeeding. The cream should create a thick barrier to protect against further soreness. Happy Feeding! Related Products
Have you been told that your baby doesn’t need, or shouldn’t be breastfeeding at night past a certain age? The age in question tends to vary depending on the well-meaning advisor. However, science tells us that in many cases, this simply isn’t true. All babies and mothers are unique, and your differences affect your baby’s need for night feedings. Some babies need to breastfeed at night, whether they’re six months, eight months, or beyond. Night feedings are particularly common for moms with small “breast storage capacity”. Understanding the basics of how milk production works will help clarify what this means and if it applies to you. The two basic dynamics that influence your milk production Degree of Breast Fullness The first, “degree of breast fullness,” refers to a simple concept: drained breasts make milk faster and full breasts make milk slower. Whenever your breasts contain enough milk to feel full, your milk production slows.1 The fuller your breasts become, your body receives the signal to slow down milk production. This is why pumping can help increase milk supply. How quickly your body produces breast milk is directly related to whether your breasts are full, or drained. When your breasts contain enough milk to feel full, your milk production slows.1 If they are fully drained, your body then increases milk production. This concept explains how pumping helps increase your milk supply. Breast Storage Capacity The second dynamic refers to a physical characteristic known as breast storage capacity, which varies among mothers. This biological difference is the reason why feeding patterns among mothers differ, and why some breastfed babies do not need to breastfeed at night while others do. Breast storage capacity is the amount of milk your breasts contain in your milk-making glands at their fullest point of the day. Storage capacity is not related to breast size. Breast size is mainly determined by how much fatty tissue is in your breasts, not by your milk-producing glands. So smaller-breasted mothers can have large-capacity storage, and larger-breasted mothers can have small-capacity storage. Whichever amount of storage your body has, it will produce plenty of milk for your baby. But babies will feed differently to get the daily volume of breast milk they need.3 Large Storage Capacity If you have large storage capacity, you may notice that after the first month of breastfeeding, your baby: • Is satisfied with one breast at most or all feedings • Is finished breastfeeding much sooner than other babies (sometimes just five minutes • Gains weight well on fewer feedings per day than the average eight or so • Sleeps for longer-than-average stretches at night If this describes your breastfeeding experience, your baby may already be sleeping for longer stretches at night than other babies you know. Small Storage Capacity Alternately, you most likely have a storage capacity on the small to average side if after the first month of breastfeeding you notice that your baby often: • Takes both breasts at feedings • feeds on average longer than about 15 to 20 minutes total • typically takes eight or more feedings per day • wakes at least twice a night to breastfeed How storage capacity affects breastfeeding patterns The most important factor contributing to your baby’s healthy growth is not how much milk he receives at each feeding, but rather how much milk he consumes in a 24-hour day. Breastfed babies of both large and small-capacity mothers receive plenty of milk, but their breastfeeding patterns will differ to gain weight and thrive.4 For example, a baby whose mother’s breasts holds six ounces or more (180 mL) may grow well with as few as five feedings per day. Whereas, if the mother’s breasts hold three ounces (90 mL), their baby will need to feed ten times each day. Breast storage capacity is much less of a factor if you are pumping. You can measure pumped milk much easier as bottles and storage bags all have markers to indicate the number of ounces (mL’s) a baby is taking. How These Dynamics Affect Night Feedings How does this all apply to night feedings? A mother with a large storage capacity has the room in her milk-making glands to comfortably store more milk at night before it exerts the amount of internal pressure needed to slow her milk production. On the other hand, if the baby of the small-capacity mother sleeps for too long at night, her breasts become so full that her milk production slows. In other words, if you have average or small breast storage capacity, night feedings may need to continue for many months for your milk production to stay stable and for your baby to thrive. Also, because your baby has access to less milk at each feeding, night feedings may be crucial for them to get enough milk overall. What’s important is not how much milk a baby receives at each feeding, but how much milk he consumes in a 24-hour day. Note: If you have small storage capacity and are using sleep training strategies to encourage baby to go for longer stretches between feedings, this can result in decreased milk production and slower growth for your baby. There is no standard to follow Each mom and baby duo is unique, and babies will outgrow the need for night feedings at different ages. Trying to apply a standard rule of thumb doesn’t take into consideration the emotional needs of the baby nor their physical need for milk. Adapted from Nancy Morbacher, the Breastfeeding Reporter References1Daly, S. E., Kent, J. C., Owens, R. A., & Hartmann, P. E. (1996). Frequency and degree of milk removal and the short-term control of human milk synthesis, Experimental Physiology, 81(5), 861-875.2Cregan, M. D., & Hartmann, P. E. (1999). Computerized breast measurement from conception to weaning: clinical implications. J Hum Lact, 15(2), 89-96.3Kent, J. C., Mitoulas, L. R., Cregan, M. D., Ramsay, D. T., Doherty, D. A., & Hartmann, P. E. (2006). Volume and frequency of breastfeedings and fat content of breast milk throughout the […]
Whether you are an exclusive pumper or you only pump occasionally, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of properly storing, freezing, and thawing your breast milk. What do I need to know about storing my breast milk? Here we’ll answer some frequently asked question as well as offer a few tips and tricks for storing and making the most out of your breast milk. What container should I use? • Glass bottles with a leak proof lid or hard BPA-free plastic bottles work really well. • Breast milk freezer bags are great if you’re travelling or have limited storage space available. Ameda Store n’ Pour bags are an excellent option and compatible will all Ameda kits. They allow you to pump directly into the bag, write the date, and pop it into your fridge or freezer. Avoid thin bottle liners. These are meant to be used as feeding bags, but not for freezing milk. The liners will often split when frozen. How much breast milk should I store? • Divide your milk into the smallest amounts your baby might take (e.g. snack size). You can always add milk if needed, but don’t save leftover milk after a feeding. When your baby takes a bottle, their saliva mixes with the milk which makes it unusable for future feedings. Storing smaller portions will reduce the possibility of having to discard any breast milk. How long can I store my breast milk? • If you follow the times on the chart below, you can keep your milk at room temperature, refrigerate it, then freeze it. • Write the date and time on your milk container with a sticky label or non-toxic marker. Add your baby’s name if they are in daycare or in the hospital. • You can combine milk pumped at different times. When combining milk from different days, write the date of the oldest milk on the container. • If you plan to use your milk within 8 days, you can keep it in the fridge. Otherwise, freeze it in the coldest part of the freezer. Avoid storing in the door, the deeper into the freezer the better. • Fresh is best. If you have just finished pumping, give your freshly pumped milk to your baby before thawing a previously frozen milk. • Fresh milk can be added to cooled milk. If you are using frozen milk, you can add to it but be sure it’s cooled first and there is less fresh than frozen. • Before freezing large amounts of milk, start with just a batch or two, thaw, and smell it. Some moms make milk high in lipase, an enzyme that digests fat. This type of breast milk has a strong, soapy smell when thawed. If this happens and your baby refuses the milk, you can deactivate the lipase before freezing by scalding the milk first. To scald your milk, heat it in a pot on the range until bubbles form at the edges, cool, and freeze. Why do some milk storage guidelines differ? Why can’t the experts agree? First, research confirms that your milk will not spoil before the times in the table below. But the longer your milk is stored, the more vitamins and antioxidants are lost. That’s why some breastfeeding books list shorter storage times. Those experts prefer you to use your milk sooner rather than later. But this doesn’t mean that your milk will spoil if you wait longer. It’s never a bad idea to give your milk as soon as you can after pumping. But what should you do if you find some stored milk in the back of the fridge that has been there for up to eight days? When in doubt about the freshness of your milk, smell or taste it. Spoiled milk will usually smell spoiled. Why do I need to warm my milk before feeding it to my baby? An older, larger baby can handle drinking chilled milk. But milk needs to be warm for a tiny baby. If a newborn is fed cold milk, it can bring down their body temperature. Younger babies need their milk warmed to between room and body temperature. What should I know about warming and thawing my milk? • Whether you’re warming chilled milk or thawing frozen milk, keep the heat low. High heat kills the live cells in your milk that help keep your baby healthy. • Warm your milk to between room and body temperature under cool then warm running water. Be sure to keep the water away from the lid of the bottle so that it doesn’t mix with the milk. One method is to put the bottle in a bowl with sides lower than the bottle’s lid. Run warm water in the bowl. The warm water against the sides of the bottle warms the milk. • Frozen milk can be thawed in the refrigerator. • Your milk is not “homogenized” like the milk you buy at the supermarket so it may separate into layers. This is a natural occurrence and if it happens, simply give it a gentle swirl to mix. HERE ARE SOME “DON’TS” TO KEEP IN MIND: • Don’t warm breast milk in the microwave. It changes the composition of the milk and causes hot spots that can burn your baby’s mouth and throat. • Don’t heat the milk in a pot on the stove. High heat can make your breast milk too hot for your baby, and it destroys the antibodies your baby needs.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s normal for your breasts to become larger, heavier, and a little tender when they begin making more milk. Engorgement, however, results when your breast milk builds up and the fullness leaves your breasts feeling hard, lumpy, and painful. When you’re engorged, you may also experience flattening of the nipple, breast tenderness, warmth, redness, throbbing, and swelling. It can sometimes even cause a low-grade fever and may be confused with a breast infection. It can happen at any time during your breastfeeding journey, but it’s most common during the third to fifth day after birth. Engorgement can sometimes lead to plugged ducts or a breast infection. So it’s important to try to prevent it before it occurs. When treated properly, you should feel relief within a couple of days. How to get relief A way to help reduce the risk of engorgement is to breastfeed often in the first few weeks. Allow your baby to feed as long as they like, ensuring they are latched on well with good suction. Some people suggest waking your baby to feed if four or more hours have passed since the beginning of the last feeding. However, opinions on this vary. You know your baby best and if they need to sleep longer, trust your gut and your killer “mom instincts”. They are usually right! Tips & Tricks • Make sure you have a good latch. If you are having trouble or you feel things are not going well, contact your nearest Lactation Consultant or La Leche League. • Breastfeed often on the affected side to remove the milk, keep it moving freely, and prevent the breast from becoming overly full. • Avoid overusing pacifiers and using bottles to supplement feedings. • Hand express or use a manual pump to release a little milk to first soften the breast, areola, and nipple before breastfeeding. You could use an electric breast pump if you have one, but not for too long. Remember: more milk out = more milk made! Your body is trying to adjust and make the right amount for your little one. • Massage the affected breast. Don’t be surprised if you notice milk leaking out. It’s completely normal and will most likely provide some relief. This method works well in a warm shower or after applying a warm compress. • Use a cold compresses in between feedings to help ease pain. • If you are returning to work, try to pump your milk on the same schedule that your baby breastfed at home. Or, you can pump at least every four hours. • Get enough rest, proper nutrition, and fluids. • Wear a well-fitting, supportive bra that is not too tight. • Use some breast pads if you feel that you might leak! How long will it last? Engorgement usually doesn’t last more than a couple of days. In the meantime, the above tips should help provide some much needed relief. Once your body adjusts to the demands of your baby, you might have some leakage and a bit of soreness but not to the same extent and only for a short period. If you find you’re continuing to have pain or engorgement, contact a healthcare professional or your local breastfeeding support person. Related Products