Breastfeeding a newborn is a heroic feat! Here are answers to 11 of the most frequently asked breastfeeding questions when breastfeeding a newborn!
How to Survive Breastfeeding a Newborn
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The first few weeks with a newborn are incredibly challenging. So many thoughts run through your mind, “Is my baby getting enough milk? Am I even producing any milk? Should I wake up my baby to feed her?” As new moms, we have seem to have so many questions, and not enough answers!
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! There are so many benefits to breastfeeding! Here are answers to 11 of the most frequently asked breastfeeding questions:
10 Common Breastfeeding Questions Answered
Is My Newborn Getting Enough Breastmilk?
There are a few ways to tell if your baby is getting enough breastmilk. One of the best ways is to keep track of the number of wet and dirty diapers they have. I know, it seems bizarre to keep track of dirtied diapers, but if your baby is peeing, then they are getting enough milk! A newborn should wet 2-3 diapers during the first few days, and then 6-8 diapers a day after more of your milk has come in.
If your baby seems to be fussy or lethargic, they might not be getting enough milk. It is important to take your baby to see the pediatrician to ensure she is gaining weight. Weight gain is a good sign that your baby is getting plenty of milk.
How Do I Know if I am Producing Enough Milk?
This question ties in with the first. If you can see that your baby is gaining weight and producing 6-8 wet diapers a day, then you are producing enough milk. A lot of mothers feel like they aren’t producing enough, but in reality, they have more than enough milk to feed a newborn. The first few days, a newborn’s stomach can only hold a few ounces of liquid.
If you are concerned that you aren’t producing enough milk, try using a breast pump and bottle feeding your baby. This will ease your mind as you will be able to know exactly how much milk your baby is getting. Of course, if you want to continue breastfeeding long-term, it is important to breastfeed more often than you bottle feed.
How Often to Breastfeed a Newborn?
Newborns will nurse about 8-12 times per day. In general, this equates to nursing every 2-3 hours. Since breast milk is digested quickly it is important to feed your baby on demand (even if you fed them 30 minutes ago).
Watch for signs of hunger: if your newborn is rooting, crying, sucking on her fingers or toes, or fussier than normal, they may be hungry again.
How Often to Feed a Newborn At Night?
Since newborns are so small, they often need to gain a bit of weight every day. In order for them to gain weight, it is important that they are fed throughout the night as well as during the day. Try to feed your newborn every 2-3 hours during the night.
Note: It is safe for a newborn to sleep for about 4 hours without eating, but don’t let them go much longer than that without nursing during the night.
Do You Have to Wake Up a Newborn to Eat?
You might night like the answer to this question. When my baby would sleep, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep myself. However, babies need to be woken up every 2-3 hours to eat for the first few weeks. If your baby occasionally sleeps for 4 hours, that is fine. Just make sure that they aren’t waiting much longer than that for more breastmilk.
Some babies will continue sleeping, even if they are hungry. Often, new mothers mistakenly think that if their baby is hungry, they will wake up and cry. This is not always the case! I know it is hard, but until your newborn has gained some weight, they need to be woken up to eat!
How Long to Breastfeed a Newborn?
Just like adults, babies each have unique personalities and eating styles. Some babies might be done nursing in under 15 minutes, while other babies will nurse for nearly 45 minutes or an hour. Let your baby guide the breastfeeding session. If they want to keep nursing, allow them to nurse. When they lose interest, they are most likely finished.
There is no set amount of time to breastfeed, follow your baby’s lead and let them guide you.
Can You Overfeed a Breastfed Baby?
No! You cannot overfeed a breastfed baby. If you feel like your baby is nursing an insane amount, they might just be going through a growth spurt. Don’t worry about overfeeding them. Follow your baby’s lead with breastfeeding, and give them as much or as little as they want.
What is a Cluster Feeding Newborn?
Cluster feeding happens when your baby “clusters” together several breastfeeding sessions during a short period of time. This is when you may begin to feel like you might be overfeeding your baby, or wondering why they are eating more than usual.
Cluster feeding is normally a sign of a growth spurt, but it could also mean that baby is prepping for a long nap!
What Are the First Signs of Mastitis?
The signs and symptoms of mastitis can show up suddenly, so there aren’t any true “first signs” of mastitis. You will know you have mastitis if you have red or swollen breasts, pain with breastfeeding, pain without breastfeeding, a fever, or if your breasts are warm to the touch.
For me, personally, I feel like I have a cloud hanging over my head and feel as if the flu is coming on.
How Can I Treat Mastitis at Home?
The most efficient way to treat mastitis is to get the milk out of your breast as quickly as possible. Either nurse your baby or hand express the milk out of the affected breast. Using a breast pump is another great way to get as much milk out as you can. While nursing or pumping, massage your breast to try to break down the clog in your milk duct.
It is also helpful to take a warm bath or shower while expressing the milk from your breast. Warm water will help to reduce some of the pain and soften the clogged milk duct.
I can usually find my clogged milk duct by looking for a red dot on my nipple. I get a warm washcloth and let it sit on my breast with the warm/hot water running on it. Massage it as much as possible. I try and do this until I can get milk flowing out of it. Once I can see a little bit coming out, I hop out of the shower and pump for a good 10 minutes.
Of course, if you are feeling really unwell and can’t seem to find the source of the problem, call your doctor!
When Does Breastfeeding Get Easier?
You may be feeling overwhelmed the first few weeks of breastfeeding. That is completely natural! With my first, I struggled with breastfeeding for about 6 weeks. Praise the heavens, something finally clicked and we never had any problems after that! Most mothers agree that breastfeeding gets easier after about 6-8 weeks of giving birth. It might seem like a long time, but I promise it will fly by!
Do you still have breastfeeding questions? We highly recommend this breastfeeding course!
Are you looking for some more tips to help you successfully breastfeed a newborn? Go HERE!
LOOKING FOR MORE BREASTFEEDING TIPS:
- How to Store Breast Milk Safely and all your Other Breast Milk Questions Answered!
- Advice for Nursing Moms on When to Start Pumping Breast Milk
- 10 Tips to Breastfeed in Public
- The Biggest Breastfeeding Mistake You Probably Are Making
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Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!