Breastfeeding your baby will provide them with the best start in life...
Our midwife and breasfeeding expert Sharon Broad answers your questions on breastfeeding.
At a glance
- Baby should be asking to be fed at least 8 times in any 24 hours
- Dream feeding is feeding your baby while they are still asleep or drowsy
How often should I be feeding in the first few weeks?
All babies are different and your baby may have some days when they feed more than other days. A good guide is that your baby should be asking to be fed at least 8 times in any 24 hours. You will know they are hungry because they will give you signs like rooting (moving his head from side to side), sticking their tongue out and trying to suck their hand. Remember, babies will often feed at night!
We've got this additional guide to help you.
It really hurts - what’s going wrong?
Pain is not normal and is usually down to incorrect positioning and attachment. It often means just a small adjustment to how you hold and attach your baby will improve any discomfort. Ask for help from your health professional or at your local breastfeeding support centre.
My baby just doesn't seem to be latching on properly. What should I do?
Many mums struggle to get established with breastfeeding and a poor latch or even reluctance to feed are common complaints. If you’re getting discouraged, persist on and keep in mind that almost all baby's will significantly improve their latch and feeding habits by four to eight weeks. It you are noticing a particular issue with latching on such as baby slipping off the nipple or clicking sounds while feeding, it could be worth checking for any evidence of tongue-tie, although normally this should be picked up on before you leave hospital. If not, and you are still struggling, speak to your health professional or seek help from your local breastfeeding support centre.
My two-week old baby hasn't fed for four hours. Should I wake him up?
Not necessarily as long as he is then feeding more throughout the rest of the day. They will probably cluster feed which means they might want to feed every hour or so and then they will have a time where they sleeps for longer.
My baby is six weeks old, should I get a feeding routine going?
A pattern of feeding and naps might begin to happen now but don’t be disheartened if this isn't the case. By now, most mums and babies are quite the experts at breastfeeding. Your baby may feed quite quickly and go longer in between feeds but they will also have growth spurts when they just want to feed more, but don’t worry - your milk production will adjust to match his needs.
My baby suddenly wants to feed all the time.
This might be a growth spurt when your baby will want to feed for longer and more frequently. If it continues for more than a couple of days or if your baby appears fractious or if you have concerns about your milk supply then seek advice from your health professional.
Do you think I should wake my two-month-old baby up at 11pm for a 'dream feed'?
Dream feeding is feeding your baby while they are still asleep or drowsy. There is no good evidence to show that dream feeding makes much difference to a baby's sleep pattern or that you will get a longer spell of sleep. It is something you can try but it might just disturb your baby more. See how it works for you.
My mum thinks my baby is not getting enough milk from me and I should top him up with formula. What do you think?
Your mum is probably worried for you and your baby. If your baby is feeding regularly throughout the day and night, they are feeding for around 10-30 minutes from the breast and producing wet nappies and yellow poo, then be reassured all is well. Sometimes grandmas get concerned when a baby asks for more feeds during the evening and night, but you can reassure her that this is normal. If you do have concerns then see your health professional for support and advice.
Should I be expressing milk so my partner can feed our baby too?
It's great that you are thinking about how you can involve your partner with feeding but it is much more beneficial for you to breastfeed rather than expressing and giving in a bottle. Breastfeeding your baby will mean your milk adjusts to the baby's demands and feeding pattern plus they will become expert at attaching to your breast rather than possibly being confused by introducing a teat. Having your partner's support and understanding about breastfeeding can make all the difference to how you feel supported and for how long you want to breastfeed. Your partner can be involved with your baby in all sorts of other ways like bathing, cuddles and baby massage to help him feel part of your new family.
What do you advise for feeding multiple babies?
It really depends on how you feel, but most people find it easier to feed each baby separately at first. Twins or triplets are often born early and one baby can be more difficult or slow to breastfeed. Once feeding is established and you feel more confident then you can try feeding more than one baby at a time.