Breastfeeding In the First Six Weeks
Breastfeeding in the first six weeks is a learned behaviour for moms and babies, and the breastfeeding experience is as individual as the pregnancy and the labour experiences are.
As the baby is gently placed on your belly and you gaze into your child’s gorgeous eyes, the next step for most women is to begin to breastfeed their child. Upon reflection, most women are overjoyed that their pregnancy is finally over. For some, pregnancy was a wonderful deep experience, for others it may have been relatively uneventful, and for a majority of woman it was nine months of nausea, bloating and discomfort. As you gently stroke your baby’s soft and perfect skin you have the sense that you are not alone, like most women, you are overjoyed that the labour is also over. The experience of labour could have been fabulous and spiritual, or it may not have been what you expected, or for many women it could have been a scary nightmare filled with induction, IV’s and monitoring. But as you hold your baby in your arms and fall madly in love with this child, it is important to realize that the next step of breastfeeding is a skill both you and your child will need to learn and perfect.
Most people don’t realize that breastfeeding is a learned behaviour. Yes, it is true that most mothers and babies have an innate desire to breastfeed, but notwithstanding, it is a process that needs to be learned by most of them.
Babies, while in the womb for nine months, have been fed passively through their bellies, by the placenta and have not had to suck or swallow in order to survive. Everything was done for them. They just needed to float in fluid and grow. Then suddenly, they are pushed into the world and they need to breathe and eat on their own. In the first 48 hours of life, a baby needs to acquire a lot of new information, and within six weeks needs to perfect the new task of breastfeeding in order for it to be successful. Yes, it is true that there are specific guidelines that practitioners need to teach moms to ensure that their newborn’s development will be proper, but most forget the essential lesson — that a baby’s feeding patterns have a lot to do with it’s personality, it’s natural strengths and
Having worked with new moms and new babies for the past 20 years, I always find that when I point out baby’s personality traits to new moms, breastfeeding always goes better. Some infants are adventure seekers, while others are cautious. Some newborns are slow and thorough learners, while some are fast and quick to pick up new information. Some infants eat slowly and others gulp down their food in three minutes. It is important to look at your newborn as a person with certain intrinsic personality traits and skills. People are always shocked when I spend 30 minutes teaching a woman to breastfeed, but I have to. Informing a new mother, I might say, “Your baby likes to be in a specific position and held firmly,” yet to another I say, “Loosen up your grip, your child swallows better when the she feels more in control.” Perhaps on another occasion I might observe that the baby seems to like the way it is being held on the left breast more than on the mother’s right, or I might have noticed that a particular baby coordinates his suckle better when he is spoken to.
I remember the time when a woman came to me after having seen three different doctors for her baby who was constantly crying and screaming. I asked her how she was feeding the baby. She answered proudly that she was feeding her baby for ten minutes on each side. I weighed the baby before the feed, and after only three minutes on the breast, I asked the woman to stop feeding and reweighed the baby. The baby had already consumed 4.5 ounces of milk. I asked the woman to burp her baby, and let her know that the baby’s feed was over. Shocked, the woman looked at me and said, “What are you talking about? This baby needs seven more minutes on this side and then ten more minutes on the other side.” Laughingly, I assured the mom that while she was correct according to the books which she had read, since her newborn had not yet read those books, he didn’t realize that 20 minutes was “normal” and he was just a fast eater so the crying would stop when the over-feeding stopped. The next woman came in complaining that her baby never seemed full, and could nurse for hours and hours. I watched the baby feed and saw that she was having trouble coordinating the necessary suckswallow- breath pattern. Here the solution was to teach the mom a little breast compression, in order to help the infant learn to eat a little faster. I brought these examples to illustrate how infants eating at
the breast were eating in a variety of ways, according to their varying temperaments, and therefore requiring different guidance.
There are some basic guidelines that all babies must follow to stay healthy, but the most important thing to remember is that your child has a personality already, even if the baby is only three hours old. Babies, just like adults have different innate skills and different strengths and weaknesses, both physically and emotionally. Some children grow up to be naturally outgoing, some are shy, some are pushy, and some are pushovers. Each of these qualities is with them from the moment they are born.
I remember attending a breastfeeding conference once where the speaker asked the group of attending adults, “How many people eat three meals a day?” A portion of the audience raised their hands. Then she asked, “How many people are grazers? How many people only eat two meals a day? How many people forget to eat?” With each question different hands went up. Then she concluded, “Even though we ultimately all need the same amount of liquids and nutrients to survive, most of us go about it in different ways. So how can we expect one baby to eat exactly like the next baby?”
Follow the guidelines below to ensure your child’s health, but don’t forget that each baby eats and nurses differently, just like each adult eats in a different pattern. Enjoy the personality of your baby. Talk to your baby when you’re nursing. Ask your baby if he or she likes the position that he or she is in. Find out how your baby is feeling. Look at your newborn as a person with a personality — with likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses just like an adult. Learn to read your babies eating patterns. Follow the basic guidelines but realize your baby is an individual.
BABY’S FIRST THREE DAYS:
1. Four wet diapers the first three days.
2. Urine needs to be clear and not deep yellow or orange (if you cannot tell from the thickness of the diaper slip a white tissue in the diaper to see true color of urine).
3. Stools should first be black, turn brown, then light green.
4. Baby satisfied and drowsy after feeds.
5. Mom should never have nipple pain, if baby is latched on properly breastfeeding should never hurt.
6. Don’t look at a clock, watch the baby. The baby needs to be swallowing at the breast. If the baby is not swallowing the baby is not eating.
7. All babies require eight to 12 feeds in a 24 hour period. Some babies will eat eight times a day and some 12. Some days the baby will eat nine times a day and the next day only eight. Just like adults some days we are hungrier then other days, but eight feeds are what babies need.
SARA CHANA’S RULES FOR THE NEXT SIX WEEKS:
1. Six to eight clear urine diapers per day.
2. Some of the six to eight diapers will have stools that are bright yellow and seedy.
3. Some babies have as many 10 watery stools a day this is also normal.
4. Babies eat every one to three hours from the end of the feed and the babies eating pattern may vary from day to day.
5. Babies should be satisfied after a feed. Sometimes a baby will be hungry one hour later and sometimes three hours later and sometimes two hours later but the mom should have a period of time after a feed that the baby appears content and satisfied.
6. Babies still require eight to 12 feeds a day in a 24 hour period.
7. The rule is if a baby is swallowing then a baby is eating. Sitting on the breast without swallowing is not eating.
Sara Chana, IBCLC, RH (AHG) is a lactation consultant, classical homeopath, registered herbalist and mother of seven children. She has worked with over 10,000 new moms and babies. Please like her Facebook page ‘Sara Chana’ and follow her on twitter: @sarachanas. Also, check out her new Breastfeeding App with 102 original videos at www.sarachana.com