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Guide to Breastfeeding

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When and how often should you feed

Day 1: Your first breastfeeding session should take place within an hour of your baby's birth, if possible. This timing takes best advantage of his instinct to suckle, kick-starts your milk, and is a great way to bond. It also helps your uterus contract, which reduces bleeding. Don't worry about getting the technique exactly right at this first feeding.

After that, make sure he's latching on correctly as early as possible. If he's not, he'll be hungry, your nipples will hurt (a lot), and both of you will get frustrated - and you may decide to throw in the towel. Signs that you're both doing it right:

  • His mouth is open wide, with his lips curled out.
  • His mouth covers the entire areola, not just the nipple.
  • He's swallowing regularly and seems content.
  • It doesn't hurt you (except maybe for the first few suckles).
  • If he doesn't seem to be latching on properly, ask to see the hospital's lactation consultant.

The first few weeks: Your baby may eat as often as once an hour. Some signs your baby is hungry: smacking his lips, suckling motions, moving his head around in search of your breast, kicking and squirming, and looking alert.

From around 1 month: Once a routine is established, most newborns feed every two to three hours during the day, and around every four hours at night. Your baby should have between 8 and 12 feedings a day - even if you have to wake him up.

Almost all moms worry that their babies aren't eating enough. But your baby's appetite will ebb and flow depending on his needs; the quantity of your milk will adjust in kind. He'll be hungrier during growth spurts, which often occur at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.

From 6 months on: Once he starts solids at around this age, he'll need less breast milk. But as long as you choose to breastfeed -even if it's in combination with food and/or formula - your milk will provide your baby with important nutrients and protection against illness.

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