Frequency of feeds

Mum breastfeeding babyHow often should you breastfeed?

Your little one will let you know when they’re hungry. It’s best to breastfeed your baby on demand (and to begin with, they will be very demanding!) Newborns will need to be put to the breast every 1-2 hours. But as their tummies begin to grow, so does the length of time between feeds and this will usually settle down to 3-4 hours or 6-8 feeds within a 24 hour period.

How long does a feed take?

At the beginning of each feed, alternate the breast you start with. It may be helpful to note down which side you used first or put a clip on your bra strap or even a hairband round the corresponding wrist, and to keep a record of what time it was.

Let the baby feed as long as he or she wishes on the first side before swapping over to the other breast if necessary. Your baby may not always need both sides, but you could try offering the other side after winding or a nappy change.

Some babies get full very quickly and a feed may be over in less than ten minutes. Others take their time and it can take three quarters of an hour, or more. Babies generally stop feeding when they have had enough. Of course at first, while you are learning together, feeding may take longer.

Is your baby satisfied?

You will know that your baby is getting enough breast milk if they:

  • Seem content and relaxed after feeding
  • Take 8 - 15 feeds per day after they are 3 - 4 days old, lengthening to 6 - 8 feeds after the first couple of weeks
  • Have at least 6 wet nappies a day after they are 4 - 5 days old
  • Have at least two bowel movements per day after they are 4 - 5 days old
  • Have a healthy glow to their skin and this is firm to touch

Your baby will lose weight over the first few days and this is completely normal. After 3 days most babies start to put weight back on and you should begin to see signs of growth. Babies usually regain their birthweight within 2 weeks from birth. If you are at all worried, it’s always best to speak to your midwife, health professional or doctor.

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