How often should I feed my new baby?
Feeding on demand
Your baby will guide you on how often she or he needs to be fed, but newborns generally need feeding every two to three hours, with a four or five hour stretch at night if you’re lucky. You should encourage your baby to feed eight to 12 times over a 24-hour period, but feed on demand rather than to a strict, hourly schedule. As you and your baby are just getting to know each other, consider the first few weeks a trial period where your body gets used to the needs of your baby.
Timing your feeds
Try to feed your baby for at least 10 minutes on each breast, using a pad and paper to keep track of which breast you fed from last. This way you can start feeding from the breast used first in the last feed. When you record the length of feeding you’ll need to time the feed from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next. What this means is that if your baby is feeding every two hours, if a session takes 45 minutes the next is due to start in an hour and 15 minutes. If your baby stops and rests for a few minutes you still need to count it as part of the total feeding time - babies rarely suck continuously for 30 straight minutes.
Encourage your baby to feed on each breast, but if they’re full after just the one, start the next feed on the other side. The most important factor is your baby’s satisfaction and contentment.
To release your baby’s attachment to your breast, insert your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth between the gum. This will gently break the suction and allow you to slowly move your baby away from your nipple. If you try to pull your nipple out while your baby is still attached you will damage your nipple which can lead to cracking, scabbing and pain - and more pain for future feeds.
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This article was written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot, New Zealand’s leading pregnancy and parenting resource.