Mommy & Baby: Feeding by Kirsten Hawkins
If you are a mom who intends to breastfeed her baby, start as soon as practical after the baby is born. Some of this will depend on the hospital’s procedures with newborns; there are hospitals which test a newborn, often returning him to you after several hours time has elapsed; others who deliver via caesarian will have to be in post-op for several hours.
Your milk will not be “in” immediately; typically this takes 3-5 days after birth. But your baby will receive nutritionally superior colostrum, which contains many antibodies and helps him develop a healthy immune system. I suggest you limit your baby’s nursing to 7-8 minutes per side before your milk comes in—you will achieve nothing more than sore, cracked nipples if you let him suck longer than that. This is how long it should take a healthy infant to draw the colostrum out of your breast.
Once your milk comes in, it is important to stimulate each breast during nursing times; 15-20 minutes on each side is sufficient for your child to empty your breast and to stimulate your glands for further milk production. Some babies are more efficient nursers than others; if you have a “rester” or a baby who takes longer than 20 minutes to empty your breast, let him nurse until he’s done.
Through the first five days after birth, maintain a 2.5-3 hour flexible routine. Do understand that a newborn is an incredibly sleepy little creature and you will need to wake him in order to get him the nutrition he needs. You may need to undress him to his diaper or use a cool washcloth to wake him up in order to eat. Full feedings (as opposed to snacking) will give him more of the nutrients he needs and will also encourage deeper and more restful sleep for him; full feedings are hard to achieve if your baby is not awake.
Bottle feeding will also provide the nutrition your baby needs if you choose to do it. Additionally, dads are able to take part in the feeding routines and thus bond more deeply with their babies when bottles are used. The most important thing to consider is the correct-sized hole in the nipple. Too big a hole and your baby will choke, sputter, and throw up. Too small a hole will lead to your baby’s frustration, hunger, and discontentment.
As with breastfed babies, 1.5-3 ounces of formula should be sufficient for your baby at a feeding for the first several weeks of life. If you make a 4 ounce bottle, your baby will generally stop when he’s full. As he grows, you will need to increase the amount of formula he receives; he will tell you if he’s not done when the bottle is empty via continuing to suck and frustration at not getting anything!
Kirsten Hawkins is a baby and parenting expert specializing new mothers and single parent issues. For more information on how to raising healthy, happy children.