How often, how long, and which breast?
How often, how long, and which breast? These are just a few of the many questions that new moms have about nursing their newborns. Here are some quick newborn nursing tips:
- Offer your breast whenever baby seems hungry or cries. This might be about every two hours or even more often in the first weeks (baby's tummy is tiny at birth).
- If a newborn younger than 6 weeks old is sleeping as long as four hours, wake her up to feed. She needs to eat or she'll get into a bad cycle -- so hungry that she's exhausted, and so exhausted that she can't wake to ask for food.
- Nursing sessions should last about 20 to 30 minutes. Some babies drink quickly and are done in 10 or 15 minutes; others doze off in the middle of breastfeeding and need to be roused, so that it takes more like 40 minutes to finish the meal. But breastfeeding less than 10 minutes or more than 40 minutes indicates a problem; check for signs that baby is actually getting milk, such as sucking movements and wet diapers.
- It's fine to do one breast at one meal, the other at the next. However, if baby drains one side and is still hungry, move to the other. Just continue to alter the "starting" breast from meal to meal. The reason: Breast milk changes in composition as baby drinks, being more liquid at first (the foremilk) and more fatty at the end (the hindmilk). Ideally, by draining at least one breast per feeding, baby gets both kinds of milk, optimal for brain development.
- A baby will unlatch naturally when she's done. You shouldn't have to ever take baby off your breast at the end. Whether she falls asleep or just pulls away, she'll take herself off when she's ready.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; La Leche League
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. 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.