Breastfeeding is just one of those topics where lots of misinformation is spread through very well-intentioned advice and sometimes it’s hard to know what exactly to believe. In past newsletters, we have shared many of these myths about breastfeeding and we would like to share them with you again in a short and sweet 5 part blog series.
#1 Nursing on demand spoils your baby. Nursing on demand is listening to what your baby needs, not spoiling. When your baby is uncomfortable, he or she communicates with fussing or crying. Watching for baby’s feeding cues is just the beginning of discovering and responding to the needs of your child. You and your baby are learning the give and take of a life-long relationship.
#2 You shouldn’t breastfeed again too soon; or, there will be more milk if you wait longer.
In truth, the more often you allow the baby to breastfeed, the greater total volume of milk is produced. Especially in the early days of breastfeeding, frequent and thorough emptying is the best way to ensure a plentiful milk supply. Even if you feel like the baby “just finished” feeding, your body is:
1) constantly making milk and replenishing what is removed, and
2) at best, babies (and pumps) remove only about 80% of the available milk in your breasts.
After weeks of breastfeeding, some moms with larger storage capacity (i.e. larger breasts) may find their babies stretch out the time between feeds and still gain weight and grow well.
#3 You won’t have enough milk for your baby until your milk “comes in” on the 3rd or 4th day.
Your body begins producing the special milk called colostrum during the 5th month of pregnancy. So even if your baby comes early, you’ll have perfectly formulated milk/colostrum for your baby from the time he is born.
It’s true it won’t seem like a lot of milk…you will see drops of the thick yellow or clear colostrum. But it is the perfect amount for your baby’s immature system at birth.
There are at least two reasons this lower volume of milk is just right for a newborn:
• A full-term newborn’s stomach is about the size of a walnut at birth. An adequate feed at this point is about a teaspoon of colostrum. It is concentrated and has everything your baby needs at the very beginning.
• A newborn is still learning to coordinate the suck-swallow-breathe combination (yep, he got the suck and swallow while sucking his thumb in-utero). Being able to pause and breathe when feeding is much easier when the milk is mere drops than if it were a full fire-hose stream of milk. These first few days while your body is making the transition to more milk is a great practice time for baby.
A small amount of colostrum = needing to feed frequently = gives the baby lots of practice time before he has to cope with lots of milk.