BREASTFEEDING BASICS #3: THE EARLY WEEKS

Mary Kay Vogel, IBCLC
Lactation Consultant
Iowa State University Extension

Copyright/Access Information

TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF

During these early weeks, you and your baby are adjusting to
many new things. You need to take good care of yourself so you
can take good care of your baby.

  • Ask for help with household tasks.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods.
  • Drink water or juice each time you breastfeed and whenever
    you are thirsty.
  • Take one or two naps a day, sleeping whenever baby sleeps.

Make a comfortable, quiet place to breastfeed and enjoy your
baby. Have plenty of pillows, a place to prop your feet, and something
to eat or drink. Put toys or books for older children nearby.
Breathe slowly and
deeply. You may want to take the phone off the hook or listen
to relaxing music.

MAKING BREAST MILK

HOW IT WORKS

Breast size does not affect your ability to make milk. As your
baby grows inside you, your body prepares to nourish your baby.
Your breasts get larger and begin to make colostrum, the first
milk. Colostrum helps protect your baby from illness. It comes
in small amounts so your baby can adjust to this new way of being
fed.

Three to four days after birth, your milk becomes more plentiful.
Your breasts become full. This fullness goes away during the second
week. You are not losing your milk. Your body is adjusting to
making milk.

Ensure a good milk supply by holding and latching your baby correctly
and breastfeeding 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.

MILK “LET DOWN”

After your baby breastfeeds a few minutes, your milk will “let
down” (begin to flow). You can hear a soft “ka, ka”
sound as your baby swallows. You may notice a tingly feeling in
your breast, or milk may leak from your other breast. Breast pads
can keep you dry and comfortable.

IS MY BREAST MILK OK?

Some babies are fussy if their mothers eat too much of one
food. Eat a variety of foods, and drink a variety of liquids.

Mothers can continue breastfeeding during most illnesses. Even
when you are sick, your breast milk helps keep your baby healthy.
Breastfeeding mothers can take most medications, but always check
with your health care professional.

SIGNS OF ENOUGH MILK

Your baby should

  • breastfeed 8 to 12 times in 24 hours,
  • swallow often after your milk lets down,
  • have six or more wet diapers in 24 hours, and
  • three or more soft, yellow stools in 24 hours. After six
    weeks, a totally
    breastfed baby usually has fewer stools.

BREASTFEEDING DIARY

Until your baby is gaining well, keep a diary. During each
24 hours, check off the wet and dirty diapers your baby has, and
write down when your baby breastfeeds.

INCREASING YOUR MILK SUPPLY

Breastfeed whenever your baby seems hungry or fussy. Offering
formula or water in place of breast milk will decrease your milk
supply.

To make more breast milk

  • make sure you are holding and latching your baby on correctly,
  • breastfeed more often – every 1 1/2 to 2 hours,
  • breastfeed at least 20 to 30 minutes each time, and
  • switch breasts when your baby’s swallowing slows down, using
    both breasts
    at least twice.

BOTTLES AND PACIFIERS

It takes some practice for breastfeeding to go smoothly. During
these early weeks, avoid giving your baby bottles or pacifiers.
A baby sucks differently on a bottle nipple and may become confused.
Encourage your baby to breastfeed rather than use a pacifier so
your milk supply will meet your baby’s needs.

FUSSY BABIES AND GROWTH SPURTS

Sometimes babies can be fussy. Breastfeeding mothers may think
they do not have enough milk or something is wrong with their
milk. But babies cry for many reasons. First, try breastfeeding
your baby more often. The closeness and some breast milk may calm
your baby.

Your baby may be going through a ” growth spurt,” a
time when babies are growing quickly and need extra milk. Go along
with your baby’s need to breastfeed more often. After a day or
two your supply will build up to meet your baby’s needs. These
growth spurts usually happen around two weeks, six weeks, three
months, and six months.

If breastfeeding does not calm your baby, change your baby’s diaper,
sing a song, walk outside, or carry your baby in a baby carrier.
These early weeks are a learning time for everyone. Babies learn
to trust that you will help them when they cry.

BREASTFEEDING AROUND OTHER PEOPLE

At first, you may feel more comfortable breastfeeding your
baby in a familiar place with just a friend or relative nearby.
As you become more experienced, you will feel confident breastfeeding
in a variety of
situations. It is easy to go places with a breastfed baby. All
you need is an extra diaper. Wear a loose, stretchy top that pulls
up easily. Breastfeed when your baby first seems hungry. A baby
blanket can cover your breast and baby.

WHO TO CALL FOR HELP

These early weeks are full of new experiences for you and your
baby. New mothers need encouragement and someone to answer their
questions. Call a friend or a relative, lactation consultant,
health care provider, hospital nursery, WIC breastfeeding specialist,
or La Leche League (1-800-525-3243).



DOCUMENT USE/COPYRIGHT
National Network for Child Care – NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the
National Extension Service
Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission
is granted to reproduce
these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only
(not for profit beyond the cost of
reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment
and this notice is
included:

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child
Care – NNCC.
Vogel, M.K. (1995). *Breastfeeding Basics #3: The early weeks
(EFNEP 247)*
(Breastfeeding Basics series). Ames, IA: Iowa State University
Extension.

Any additions or changes to these materials must be preapproved
by the author .

AVAILABLE FROM::
Extension Distribution Center
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Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
PHONE:: (515) 294-5247
FAX:: (515) 294-2945
E-MAIL:: pubdist@iastate.edu

COPYRIGHT PERMISSION ACCESS
Elisabeth Schafer
1105 Human Nutritional Sciences Building
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
PHONE:: (515) 294-6507
FAX:: (515) 294-6193
E-MAIL:: eschafer@iastate.edu

COMMENT:: Adapted from publication by Idaho Department
of Health and Welfare.


FORMAT AVAILABLE:: Print – 2 pages
DOCUMENT REVIEW::
Level 2 – Iowa State University Extension
DOCUMENT SIZE:: 12K or 4 pages
ENTRY DATE:: November 1995

 


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