Breastmilk is not just a food for your newborn, it is more like an elixir for the baby. After being the best source of nutrition, it is also a contributor to your babies immunity.
With its innumerable benefits, breast milk is considered the best food for baby, but how much of it does your newborn really need?
Colostrum aids in proper functioning of their digestive system and helps remove the meconium from their gut, decreasing the risk of jaundice. The mother’s milk also provides antibodies to the baby when their own bodies aren’t capable of fighting the infections that leaves them vulnerable outside the womb.
When Should You Start Feeding Your Baby?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends feeding your newborn within one hour of the birth. Colostrum, which is the first type of milk that a mother’s body produces, is generated in small quantities to cater the newborn’s nutritional needs. It is high in carbohydrates and proteins and contains antibodies that protect your little one in the first 48-hours of their life.
Due to medical reasons, the mother is unable to feed the baby in the first hour—in case of a section, complications to the mother or baby after delivery because of which they can’t be together. However, it is recommended that babies be fed with the mother’s first milk after birth.
How Much Milk Does A Newborn Drink?
The answer is as much as they want to! The more your baby feeds, the better is it for their health. It will contribute to their growth and development, help them gain weight and prevent the risk of jaundice, which almost all babies are susceptible to after birth.
Initially, your baby may seem hungry at all times—if your newborn feeds 8-12 times a day in the first 24 hours, it is a sign of good health.
Your baby cannot drink a lot and be done with feeding in one go. They indulge in feeding less amount of milk, but more frequently. By the first week, they will drink about an ounce of milk in every feed. Gradually, this will increase to 2 ounces over the coming days—so they will be hungry again after a gap of 2 hours.
Look for the signs that they indicate they are hungry—sticking out their tongue, sucking on their hands or fingers. They could show these signs even when they have just finished feeding. Don’t hesitate to feed your munchkin once again.
Don’t worry, you won’t run out of breast milk. In fact, the more your little one will feed, the more milk your body will produce to keep up the supply. By the time your baby is a month old, you will notice that they feed for longer and the frequency of the feeds will also decrease.
How To Make Sure Your Baby Feeds Well?
A newborn usually breastfeeds every 2 hours. To make sure your baby has fed well, keep them from falling asleep during the feeds. If they latch onto your breasts on fall asleep after a few sucks, they won’t be drinking enough and wake up sooner to feed again.
If they don’t suck enough, your breasts won’t make enough colostrum. If the milk comes out late, your baby may become sleepy or fussy.
To keep your newborn awake, rub their head or feet. You could give them a gentle massage on their back.
How To Begin Breastfeeding?
Find a quiet and comfortable place where you can feed your little one without any disturbance. Before you start breastfeeding, swaddle your baby in a blanket and hold them in a proper position. Place your areola completely in the baby’s mouth until they grip on it. As soon as they latch, they will start sucking. Press your breasts in an upward motion to allow more milk to flow into their mouth. Check every now and then to make sure the baby hasn’t slept while feeding.
If your baby isn’t able to latch or is getting fussier or sleepier and losing weight or if your nipples feel sore, consult your doctor or a lactation specialist.
Breastfeeding could make you feel exhausted, but it is worth your baby’s health and helps in keeping up your milk supply.