It’s a shock to many new parents that just 48 hours after baby is born, you’re back at home and apart from the safe, secure cocoon of expert nurses at the hospital who stood ready to help and guide. Don’t worry—you’ve got this, and we’ve got the answers to the top 3 questions most parents have when it comes to feeding a newborn. In these first weeks after birth, you’re creating your milk supply, so rest when baby rests, and keep her close by so that you can catch her feeding cues.
#1: Is it normal for baby to seem hungry all the time?
So, you’re home after a busy birthing experience and your baby wants to nurse “all the time.” This is a typical and normal response from your newborn; in fact, your baby will likely want to nurse 10-12 times in those first days!
This may seem too frequent to family and friends who aren’t familiar with what to expect with a breastfeeding infant. But rest assured, most healthy newborns feed “on demand”, which means your baby will be nursing about every 2 hours with unlimited time at the breast each time.
#2: How will I know if my baby is hungry or just crying?
Your baby will give you clues to her hunger: She may smack or lick her lips, open and close her mouth, or suck on her tongue, lips, finger or toes. She may also fidget or “root” by turning her head toward your breast—and her food!
Crying is a late sign when it comes to hunger. Don’t wait for crying or baby may be too upset to relax and latch on to your breast. If you find yourself in this state with baby, be patient, calm her and offer her your breast until she latches on.
#3: Should baby just keep feeding and feeding?
Sometimes, often in the evenings when you’re more tired, baby will want to feed more frequently, and for longer periods of time. These are called cluster feedings. The best thing is to find a comfortable place to nurse and let the others take care of the house and you. Keep baby close to you with a wrap so that she can feed frequently.
How often and for how long baby feeds is her way of helping you produce milk; it also calms baby and makes her feel secure. She’ll pull off the breast when she’s done nursing. You can always offer her your other breast just in case, but if she’s truly done, start the next feeding with the other breast.