Just had a new little addition to your family or expecting one? Here are few tips to breastfeed the baby successfully.
When is the best time to start feeding the baby?
The best time to start feeding the baby is immediately after the delivery, once the pediatrician asserts that the baby is fit to start sucking. In most cases, babies are able to start sucking immediately after delivery. Even in a cesearean section case, breast feeding can be initiated while the final stage of surgery is still going on, unless the mother is sedated. Babies are vigorous and active during the first half hour after delivery. They have the urge to suckle during this time. Thereafter, the baby goes into slumber and is drowsier. It is therefore very important to initiate breast feeding soon after delivery to facilitate proper latching and sucking.
How frequently should the baby be fed?
Ideally, a baby who is born after completion of the term of gestation and weighs more than 2.5 kgs, must be fed only on demand. Babies demand feeding by crying or by waking up from sleep and showing mannerisms like putting fingers to mouth, sucking of hands, moving towards the mother's breast, etc. However, in the first one week of life, the breastfeeding pattern is not well established and both mother and baby are learners and need practice. Sustained milk production is also not in place and this can happen only if the baby suckles for a longer time more frequently. Jaundice, which is common in newborns is more often seen in the first one week and frequent feeding reduces the levels of jaundice. It is for these reasons, that breastfeeding is advised atleast once in every 2 hours in the first one week after delivery. After one week, baby can be fed on demand only. This rule applies only for healthy term babies who have more than 2.5 kg birth weight.
Both the breasts must be used equally through the day. Babies tend to prefer one side feeding, but that must be discouraged from the beginning. Otherwise, the ignored breast will gradually stop producing milk. There will also be disproportionate breast size for the woman, from cosmetic point-of-view. It is important to finish feeding from one side and then only go to the other side. When a baby starts feeding on one side, there will be trickling of milk from the other side. Mothers have a tendency to switch to that side thinking that the milk is getting wasted. That should not be done. One must allow the baby to complete feeding on one side and then only move to the other side. This is because, the initial milk, known as the fore milk is rich in carbohydrate. It gets digested easily and does not keep the baby satisfied for a long time. The milk that comes later, known as the hind milk is rich in fat. It digests slowly and keeps the baby satisfied for a longer time.
What should be the duration of feeding?
“How much time should I feed my baby” is a frequently asked question. The meal-time at each breast is only 4 to 6 minutes. Beyond that time, only few drops of milk trickle. However, during the first one week of life, when breastfeeding is not well established, mothers need to feed for at least 15 to 20 minutes on each side. More the baby suckles; more milk is produced the next time. It is better to feed on both the sides during each feeding session until the baby is 3 to 4 weeks old. This will establish good feeding patterns. After that, the baby can be allowed to feed one breast only during each feeding session.
How can the mother know that the milk is sufficient for the baby?
When the baby takes sufficient milk, the baby will be able to sleep for at least 1 to 2 hours, will pass urine frequently and will gain weight adequately.