One of the most frequently asked questions I get in the hospital from my mommies is “how often should my baby eat”?
Breastfed babies typically nurse every 1-3 hours or 10-12 times a day. Frequent breastfeeding and nursing on demand is great for your milk supply, and can also help prevent or lessen engorgement. The great thing about breastfeeding is that you can’t over feed a breastfed baby.
The best thing to do is pay attention to babies early hunger cues (hands in the mouth, rooting, licking lips) and put baby to breast at this time. Try your best to avoid waiting for baby to cry, this is a late hunger sign, and it is more challenging to latch a fussy baby. Allow baby to nurse on the first breast until she is no longer actively suckling and you can not stimulate baby to continue, then offer the second breast and repeat. Again, try to go by baby’s body language at the breast rather then a clock.
Also, remember the first day or so after delivery some infants are super sleepy and may need mommy to wake them every 2hours during the day and then 3-4hrs at night to nurse. At this time lots of skin to skin is great for both mommy and baby. If baby is too sleepy to latch in the hospital an LC can assist with hand expression or spoon feedings to get baby going. (Always remember to request LC visit your room in the hospital)
So many mommies tell us the first few weeks are so exhausting and the truth is, it is. You may feel like baby is stuck to you like velcro and nursing frequently, but baby needs to during this phase. The good part is the more you nurse the more milk you make. Allowing baby to breastfeed on demand at this time is helping to lay down the foundation for a great milk supply. Try your best to sleep when baby sleeps and enjoy putting baby to breast.