How often should I breastfeed my newborn baby?
The LLL talk about 8-12 feeds in 24 hours for a newborn. This allows mother's body plenty of opportunity to produce good levels of prolactin hormone, which in turn affects milk supply. If prolactin is not satisfactorily produced in the first few weeks then the opportunity is lost for good. The prolactin manufactured then determines your milk supply for months ahead. Prolactin levels are at their highest at night so night feeds have a very important role to play in those first few weeks in helping to develop your milk supply.
Feed your newborn frequently in the beginning. After baby feeds, change his/her diaper and put for a nap. This will provide a break between eating and sleeping, albeit a very short one and is the first stage of implementing EASY.
You will be helping baby fall into a natural pattern of eating, activity (short!), and sleep. Do not go by the clock or use schedules, instead watch for your baby's hunger cues. Tracy teaches us to learn our baby's language and when they are hungry versus tired versus overstimulated, etc. Hunger signs are listed below:
Hunger signs in a newborn
*Slight coughlike sound in the back of the throat; then out comes the first cry. It's short to begin with then more steady: waa, waa, waa rhythm
*Baby starts to subtly lick her lips and then "root" - tongue starts coming out and turns head to side
*Arches back, looking for breast
*Turns head to side and cranes neck back with mouth agape
*Curls tongue at the sides
*If your newborn does not exhibit these signs and has not fed after 2.5 - 3 hours, offer the breast anyway.
My doctor/midwife says I should feed on demand, how does that work with whispering?
We prefer to think of it as feeding on cue. Always feed a hungry baby, regardless of the clock. As you get to know your baby, you'll be able to identify when he/she's hungry. Focus on getting in full feeds to avoid a snacking situation. You can rouse a sleepy newborn by removing clothing, changing a diaper in the middle of a feed, stroking their hands/soles of their feet, gently touching their forehead with a damp cloth.
How do I make EASY work with a newborn?
Many newborns are very sleepy. They'll spend much of their first weeks of life eating and sleeping. To help your baby's natural biorhythms settle into a pattern, you'll follow a very flexible routine of eat, activity, sleep. You may find that a very young baby falls asleep at the breast whatever you do. If you find you can't rouse them with gentle stroking or stimulation, don't worry unduly. Your body is producing a powerful hormone called oxytocin which induces sleep and some people produce higher levels than others. You may feel sleepy too! Its effects lessen after a few weeks and this is the time when your baby may naturally seem more awake after a feed and you can encourage the beginnings of EASY if you haven't already.
It's important to remember your baby will go through several 'growth spurts'. Common times for growth spurts are during the first few days at home and around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months (There are more later too). Babies don't read calendars, however, so your baby may do things differently. During these times your baby will want to feed more regularly - sometimes even an hour after the previous feed! They may also sleep differently and feed more at night. These unusual periods can last anything from 2-5 days. The baby is developing your milk supply in order to meet their future needs so it's important not to restrict time at the breast or feel like you should be 'stretching' until the next time to feed. Look out for the hunger signs and your supply will develop as needed. During this time you may want to use a EAEASY structure to allow for more frequent feeding. Don't spend these few days worrying about your baby 'snacking'. Things will return to normal.