With so many research findings confirming the undeniable superiority of breast milk over any other form of milk, there is hardly a reason not to breastfeed the newborn or infant. Most mothers are convinced about the benefits of breast milk and are in fact eager to breastfeed their babies. However, there is always some amount of anxiety, especially in new mothers, if their babies are taking enough milk. Unfortunately in breastfeeding, the amount of milk a baby is consuming during each feed cannot be measured.
Experts advise that the baby should be fed as and when it demands a feed, neither too soon nor too late. Usually babies demand for a feed every 2-3 hours, but it could vary depending on the baby’s appetite and your supply. Mothers are asked to start breast-feeding the baby within 2 hours after birth. Babies may suck for 3-5 minutes on each side on the first day before falling asleep. In the first few days, it is suggested that the baby should be put to the breast for at least 10 minutes on each side, every four hours. This can be gradually increased as the baby grows. On an average babies nurse 8- 12 times a day.
Mothers often think demand feeding is “feed when the baby cries”. Cry is in fact the most common sign of hunger that mothers frequently rely on. Although hunger is most likely the reason for the babies cry, it does not rule out other reasons like colic. Cry is also considered as a late sign of hunger, hence it is suggested that the baby be nursed before he gets too agitated or starts crying. Too much crying can make the baby tired, and he might fall asleep in the middle of his feed. So try and look for other signs of hunger even before the baby starts crying. Look for signs like
• Opening his mouth and sticking out the tongue.
• Sucking his fingers.
• Putting his fists in the mouth.
• Trying to move his mouth towards the mother’s breast or towards a finger stroking the cheek.
• Making cooing sounds.
All these signs are indicators that your baby could be demanding a feed from you. Feed once in every 2-3 hours and if your baby looks happy and satisfied after the feed, in all probability he has taken enough feed. The best way to find out if you are breastfeeding enough is to check your baby’s weight every month. If the doctor says that your baby is gaining weight normally, it is quite evident that your baby is taking sufficient milk.
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