SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)

Say YES to your FREE SUBSCRIPTION today! Simply fill in the form below and click "Subscribe". You'll receive American Baby® magazine ABSOLUTELY FREE! (U.S. requests only)

Email:

First Name:

Last Name:

Address:

City:

State:

Zip:

Mother's Birth State: 
Is this your first child?
Yes
No
Due date or child's birthdate:
Your first FREE issue of American Baby® Magazine packed with great tips and expert advice will arrive within 4 to 6 weeks. In the meantime, your e-mail address is required to access your account and member benefits online, but rest assured that we will not share your e-mail address with anyone. Free subscription is subject to publisher's qualifications. Publisher bases number of issues served on birth and due dates provided. Click here to view our privacy policy.

Breastfeeding 101: Letting Your Newborn Set the Schedule

Breastfeeding 101: Letting Your Newborn Set the Schedule
Breastfeeding 101: Letting Your Newborn Set the Schedule

The words "newborn" and "schedule" don't always go together, particularly when it comes to breastfeeding, says Kathleen Gale, a lactation consultant and registered nurse with Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago. Although some mothers try to set a breastfeeding schedule, Gale says that most lactation consultants are not proponents of such rigidity. "We teach that a mother should learn the feeding and satiation cues of a baby and be led by the baby's cues, especially in the very beginning," says Gale, who is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). "Every mother produces milk at a different speed. Every mother has different storage capacity in her breasts. And every baby is different in his or her capability of removing the milk."

In the first month, Gale says, a baby will usually eat 8 to 12 times a day. It's best to feed him before the crying begins, Gale says. Be aware of early cues that signify hunger, such as a tongue movement in mouth, including lip-smacking and tongue-smacking; opening the mouth wide while turning the face toward something that he's touching; clenching fists and bending the arms, while holding hands near his face or in his mouth.

Gale says that the length of each feeding varies from person to person. Some babies can spend as little as five minutes on each breast; others may take 20 to 30 minutes per breast. If it takes longer than that, moms should speak with a doctor or lactation consultant. "If feedings last more than 40 minutes repeatedly, that might be a sign there is an issue, either a low milk supply or something with the baby's sucking skills," Gale says.

While the baby is nursing, Gale says, she will give off cues indicating satiation. These include the arms and hands gradually relaxing throughout the feeding, and if the baby stops rooting and showing signs of hunger.

In addition, weight gain and frequent diaper changes indicate that the baby is getting enough milk. Newborns have similar patterns the first few days when it comes to output, making it simple to track how they're doing. "With each day of life, numbers of pees and poops increases," Gale says. "On Day One we expect a minimum of one of each, day two it's two of each, day three it's three, day four it's four, and then it stays at four stools and goes up to six urinations a day, until about one month, then the stools start to decrease."

Gale recommends using a diaper and feeding log (you can find a good one at KellyMom.com) to note feedings and output for the first two weeks. "Having a record of the number of feedings and the number of pees and poops helps you to see if things are going normally," she says. "If they're not, you know to call the doctor."

Overall, Gale says that it's important to listen and be responsive to your child and adapt to his schedule, rather than expecting the reverse. "A baby cannot be spoiled," she says. "When a baby learns that a parent is going to respond quickly to their expression of need, the baby learns trust earlier rather than later."

Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.