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Feeding Expectations

Nursing Your BEST

When it comes to feeding time, let baby set the pace.

First Feedings

While babies are newborns, most nursing sessions take 20 to 45 minutes. It may take longer because newborn babies are often sleepy. Your baby will want to eat very often, maybe once every hour, and baby should because this is what builds your milk supply.

Feed your baby on the fuller breast first until baby releases the nipple or falls asleep, then burp and offer the other breast. Some babies feed from both breasts at each feeding, while other babies are satisfied after one breast.

Hello milk! When your baby is 2 to 5 days old, your milk will become thinner and bluish-white in color, like skim milk. Your breasts will also feel fuller. Congratulations, your milk has come in! When this happens, it is very important to nurse your baby frequently to keep your breasts from becoming too full or engorged.

Your milk changes as your baby feeds. When your baby first begins a nursing session, baby gets foremilk. Foremilk is lower in fat and higher in lactose, a milk sugar that is important for development. The foremilk quenches your baby’s thirst. As the feeding progresses, your milk transitions to hindmilk. Hindmilk is higher in fat, so it helps your baby feel full longer. During a feeding, it’s important not to switch breasts until your baby has had a chance to get the hindmilk from the first breast. Some people think of hindmilk as the baby’s dessert.

Cramps While Nursing

In the days after delivery, you may feel cramping in your lower stomach when you nurse. Cramps are a sign that your uterus is contracting and shrinking to its pre-pregnancy size. This is just one way nursing helps you get your pre-pregnancy body back.

As your uterus shrinks, you may notice an increase in vaginal discharge. Women who feel abdominal cramping may have more intense cramping with each child. And, just remember, this is normal and it will not last forever!

Cluster Feeding

It’s normal for babies to feed several times close together and then go several hours without feeding throughout the day. This is called cluster feeding and often happens while baby is a newborn and during a growth spurt. During the first days of life, healthy newborns may nurse every hour or several times in one hour, especially during the evening and at night. It is important to watch your baby for early hunger cues and bring baby to the breast right away, even if baby just finished feeding.

Breast and Milk Changes

Your breasts will usually feel fuller in the morning, and softer and less full at night. This is normal. When your breasts are less full, you have more fat in your milk to satisfy your baby. Just think of it as dessert for your baby. Your nighttime milk also has hormones that help your baby sleep.

Feeding During a Growth Spurt

Healthy newborns have their first growth spurt between 1 and 3 weeks. Growth spurts make babies fussier, so your baby will want to eat more often, sometimes once every hour. While you may not feel you have that much milk when your baby is nursing often, the extra sucking and nipple stimulation will send signals to your brain to make more milk. The more you nurse, the more milk you will make. Other growth spurts happen around 4 to 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months, but they are not always predictable. If your baby is acting a little fussy and wants to eat more often, it’s probably a growth spurt.

Solid Foods

Human milk provides complete nutrition for the first 6 months. Once your baby is 6 months old, able to sit up, and gets more interested in food, it’s time to begin introducing pureed or soft meats, fruits, and vegetables. It does not matter which one you start with. Human milk will still provide the majority of nutrition, but this will change over the next few months as baby begins to eat more solid food.