Things You Should Know About The First 6 Weeks Of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is meant to be a comfortable and enjoyable experience and while it is time-consuming in the early weeks it does ultimately end up being a very easy and pleasurable way to feed your baby.
But sometimes breastfeeding problems occur and when they do breastfeeding can be anything but a comfortable or pleasant experience. Problems present themselves as one or more of the following; sore/damaged nipples, painful feeding, painful breasts, baby feeding around the clock or the baby not gaining weight.
Very very often though a new breastfeeding mum may not actually realise she is actually having a problem with breastfeeding! This might seem like a strange thing to say but it happens because many new mums don’t realise that breastfeeding is meant to comfortable and easy, they think it is meant to hurt or be exhausting and so they just put up with it all and try and tough it out. This scenario results in a lot of stress for mum and can easily lead to her giving up breastfeeding prematurely.
So rather than focus on specific breastfeeding problems I feel it is really important to understand what the normal parameters for breastfeeding are. Then if these normal parameters aren’t being met the mum can recognise it early and get help as soon as possible. It is imperative that she gets skilled breastfeeding help because allowing the problem to continue will jeopardise breastfeeding success.
Parameters for Normal breastfeeding for the first six weeks:
- When the baby latches on breastfeeding is comfortable and pain free (from the first feed onward)
- There is no routine – a feeding pattern will emerge after about six weeks.Feeds will vary in length from 10 minutes to 50 minutes per feeding session.
- Baby will suck and swallow through most of the feeding session but there will be pauses as well.
- A baby will feed at least 8 to 10 times in a twenty-four hour period but there can be many more than this and sometimes there will only be ten minutes between feeds.
- The baby will feed a lot in the evenings/nights for the first six weeks.
- The baby should fall asleep on the breast at the end of the feed or come off satisfied and content.
- The baby should be doing at least 3 poo’s per day and at least 6 wet nappies per day.
- Baby should be gaining 4 – 6 ounces (140grams to 210grams) per week for the first three months.
- Baby should be content for a lot of the day (not crying) however some crying is normal with a new baby.
- The breasts should not be painful – (except around 3 to 4 days after the birth when the milk comes in).
- Breastfeeding is quite time-consuming in the first six weeks and then is gets much much easier J
This is a basic benchmark for normal breastfeeding, if a new mum isn’t sure that her breastfeeding is meeting these criteria she may have a breastfeeding problem and needs to get help as soon as possible.
In Ireland at present the best person to get help from is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). An IBCLC is especially trained to help mums resolve breastfeeding problems and most hospitals will have breastfeeding clinics run by IBCLC’s.
There are also IBCLC’s in private practice and you can find one in your area by going to their website www.alcireland.ie . There are also breastfeeding support groups run by volunteer organisations who are skilled at helping the mum with basic problems.
The key to successful breastfeeding is early recognition of problems and early intervention so that mum can get back on track to comfortable and enjoyable breastfeeding!