IS IT NORMAL? aka breastfeeding myths busted

It could be a natural reaction to BEING BORN! It’s BIG, NOISY, COLD (or hot depending on where and when your baby is born) and SCARY when you have just landed on Earth, out of the cosy, just perfect temperature and volume, safe and snug little nook of your mummy’s tummy. It’s called the 4th trimester.

However! If this behaviour accompanied by an unhappy looking and sounding baby who is either lethargic or inconsolable, you may need to step up your game.

Check for:

– good weight gain (following percentile line)

– plentiful nappy output

– relaxed sleep that lasts more then just a few minutes at a time

– EFFECTIVE FEEDING (watch some videos, pop along to a breastfeeding group, hire a consultant, sit with an experienced breastfeeding friend) – baby sucking and swallowing milk audibly after every 1-3 sucks

– generally happy baby (bouts of unsettled behaviour or crankiness, especially in the evening hours is perfectly within the range of normal)

Tips:

Baby wearing:

you may ‘get away’ with keeping your baby close, holding and carrying them in a baby sling or wrap, which can re-create a womb-like environment and satisfy baby’s need for closeness and comfort. Can help with constipation too. Beautiful for bonding. Other family members can do it too, while mum rests!

Beware of missing hunger cues.

Baby massage:

Perfect for SO many reasons. Calms baby, pain relieving, can help with constipation, unsettled behaviour, stimulation of the nervous system, improves immunity. Helps with bonding between caregiver and baby.

Enjoy the cuddles! If all is well (see check list), try and embrace this phase of parenting (intense right?) and perhaps practice some mindfulness yourself:

breathe in your baby’s delicious smell, strike her/his skin, kiss them, sing to them, talk to them.

Hand them over. When it all feels too overwhelming and you know your baby is healthy and well fed, pass them over to a loving friend or family member. Win-win!

The short answer is: IT DEPENDS.

I’m amazed how frequently I meet families still, where they were told it’s OK for their baby not to have produced a dirty nappy for days. At a few days old.

In the early days, the only really reliable sign of baby’s milk intake is their nappy output.

So up until 6 weeks, you want to see heavy wet and dirty nappies EACH DAY.

Day 1: 1 wet, 1 dirty (meconium – black tarry) nappy

Day 2: 2 wet, 2 dirty (brown) nappies

Day 3: 3 wet, 3 dirty (green)

Day 4-5 onwards: 3-5 yellow/mustard poos and regular wet nappies

You will figure out your baby’s bowel habits and look out for anything that’s different or strange for THEM after a period of normality. This can be texture, colour or smell of poos or wees, absence of regular nappies or blood, mucus or urate chrystals (red/orange specs) in nappy. See your health care professionals straight away.

If wet/dirty nappies are not frequent as above, seek skilled infant feeding support as early days are crucial to get things on track in terms of good latching and positioning, excluding anatomical/structural/health reasons for baby not feeding well, and adjusting supplements as necessary.

From week 6 onwards you may start seeing less frequent poos (possibly every few days only) but larger in size. Easy to pass.

Mixed feeding or formula feeding can cause constipation is some babies.

Explosive green poos may be a sign of allergies and worth investigating with a professional.

Have you been given C.R.A.P. advice around poos? What happened?

Again, a bit of ‘baby watching’ goes a long way!

Look out for signs of fullness:

1. baby looks ‘milk drunk’ and falls off the breast

2. baby looks relaxed, especially around the mouth area (not gripping, soft lips)

3. if you lift baby’s arm, it falls back down

4. baby is satisfied and sleeps between feeds for a period of time (notice I’m not saying for X number of hours, as this will vary by your baby’s age, health, temperament and developmental phase)

5. baby’s fists are open

Baby not wanting to be put down is NOT a good measure of their fullness. 4th trimester is famous for most babies acting like little chimpanzees (we ARE mammals after all) and clinging to their mummies 24/7. Your baby is healthy and doesn’t need fixing!

The fullness/softness of your breast (see yesterday’s post) is NOT a good measure of when your baby has finished a feed. In the early days after birth your breasts will most likely overproduce milk and adjust to the demand over the first few weeks (2-4) if feeding directly from the breast responsively.

If you are topping up, watch your baby for signs of hunger after finishing BOTH breasts with compressions, and give your top up at this stage.

Another strategy that works quite well is to give a small amount of supplement BEFORE starting the breastfeed, to calm and energize baby, followed by both breasts and finishing top up. Again, this is another post, but if you are doing the incredibly hard work of triple feeding, you may have to stick to a time limit, as to not bun yourself and your baby out.

Hello mamas,

I get it. You’ve been told to

– stick to one breast per feed

– switch breasts at every feed

– stick to the same breast for 15 minutes then swap

stick to the breast as long as baby wants to stay on (could be hours!)

– don’t worry about it, just feed as it comes

đŸ¤¯

What to believe?

Firstly, there’s only one YOU and only one BABY of yours (unless you have twins or triplets, in which case you will notice how different your babies already are)!

So there is NO one size fits all.

However, the following top tips might help you figure it out:

1. Watch your baby:

– What age are they? The younger the baby, the more crucial it is for them to take a full feed as often as possible and gain weight according to their per centile line. If you have an older nursling, say 4 months old, it becomes a little less crucial, so you can be a lot more flexible.

– With a newborn, you can watch your baby for signs of active drinking (a separate post sometime) and stick to the same breast while this is still the case. Once sleepy, apply some breast compressions. Once these stop being effective at keeping your baby awake too, SWITCH.

– If your baby is losing weight or dropping per centiles, it’s especially important to NOT restrict to one breast per feed. Your baby will respond well to FLOW, which is more likely to happen if you keep switching between breasts, hence ‘putting in more order’ for them to fill up. Remember: soft breast=more production

2. Watch your boob:

– Have you got a smaller or larger storage capacity? How do you know? If your baby tends to come back to the breast very regularly, (closer to 12 times per 24 hrs or more), you’re likely to have a smaller storage capacity. This means they likely need BOTH breasts per feed.

If your baby needs fewer BIG feeds (6-8 times per 24 hrs), you potentially have a larger storage capacity, which enables your baby to fill up from one breast only and last longer between feeds. However, there’s no harm in offering both đŸ˜‰

– In case your breastfeeding supporter has confirmed you have an oversupply, it’s likely you’ll be wise to stick to one breast per feed or even block feed for a certain number of hours.

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