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6 Ways to Make Life Easier When Feeding a Newborn

oH BaBy, feeding a newborn can test the sanity of even the most type-A mommas,  the ‘I read all the baby books’ mommas, and even the ‘I thrive in life by rolling with the punches’ mommas. No matter what type of momma you are, or want to be, there is one thing we all have in common-we all want to make things as easy as possible. Here are 6 tips that our BFFs have lived by and want to pass on to you.

1. Follow Feeding Cues and the Rule of 2’s

Feeding cues are how newborns show hunger. Babies have sneaky signs of hunger like:

  • stir, yawn or open their mouths,
  • stick out tongue,
  • root around looking for breast, 
  • bring hands to the mouth, 
  • flutter their eyelids while waking from sleep. 

In the first days of life, your newborn baby’s stomach is still small, so he or she will only take a few ounces at a time.

This means that baby will need to feed about every 2 hours (give or take).

Your breasts may also not feel very full during these first days, but you’re actually producing colostrum, which has so many benefits for baby even in these small amounts.

Rule of 2 for formula-fed babies, offer about two ounces about every 2 hours. Let baby decide how much to drink at each feed.

The goal is not to have a baby that drinks a bottle in record time-here is another rule of 2: 2 ounces of formula in 20 minutes.

2.  First comes comfort, then comes feeding

Practice ‘leaning’ back latching when breastfeeding. 

Latching onto the breast can take some practice for you and baby when you leave the inclined hospital bed. When sitting on a chair or sitting up in bed it can be tempting to lean forward toward the baby to latch him to the breast. This is a no-no and can cause poor latching, back pain, and less milk transfer.

To make sure you are comfortable first, do this instead:

  • Prepare the breastfeeding space with supportive pillows or seating 
  • Get yourself comfortable first sitting or reclining with your hips scooted forward. Once you are comfortable, bring baby to your breast without leaning forward so that baby’s belly is lying against you.
  • Support baby in any way comfortable without directly grabbing the back of the head.

3.  Prepare to feed a sleepy newborn

Newborns will fall asleep and wake up throughout the day. If your baby is sleeping a lot, make sure to wake baby every 2-3 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night to feed.

If baby is very drowsy during feeds, undressing baby  will help him or her stay awake during feeding. Your baby’s sleep-wake cycle will even out over the first few weeks.

4. Before you worry, use the dirty diaper to tell the newborn feeding story

Wet diapers: wet diapers will increase each day (1 for the first day, 2 for the second day…) until your ‘milk comes in’ (when mature milk begins and your breasts begin to feel fuller). After that, you can expect about 5-6 wet diapers per day.

Dirty diapers: your baby will pass his first bowel movement, called meconium, in the first 24 hours. The meconium will be black and odorless, and over the next few days, the color will change from black to dark green to yellow or tan. It will also start to smell, which means that the healthy bacteria are starting to colonize in baby’s gut! By day 4, your baby will likely have 3-4 dirty diapers per day.

5. Every Time baby feeds, mom eats and drinks too

Your appetite may shift in the first few days after giving birth. Breastfeeding requires extra calories and nutrition, and breastmilk production requires extra water.

Follow your body’s cues for hunger. Your attention will be largely focused on your new little being, so it is okay to have healthy snacks and a full glass of water, milk, or low sugar drink, every-time baby eats as a reminder to nourish yourself!

6. Seek out support

Welcoming a newborn baby is a time of great transition, and family and friends can help moms in many ways…and these ways do not always involve feeding the baby!

Spouses and family members can wake up during the night with the baby. If you want to sleep more, you can consider giving your baby a bottle overnight so your family can give the bottle while you sleep.

Friends can take care of the baby during the day while mom gets some rest. Or friends can help with older children while mom takes care of the baby.

Anyone in a new mom’s community can provide food and other supplies for the family. Not only does mom need good food to heal and support breastfeeding, the whole family can enjoy meals together! There are so many  meal delivery services that are great for sending a 3-5 meals to help you out.

Sometimes you need support in working on feeding worries and questions, especially when you are not feeling supported in your feeding goals or come upon worries in your feeding journey. When this happens, seek out support from feeding experts.

In the end, every baby is different and it will take some learning time to get into the easiest feeding routine for you and your baby. Learning your baby’s feeding cues, taking care of yourself foremost, and knowing that feeding so so so frequently is NORMAL, has helped moms just like you.

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Emily Sylvester

Emily Sylvester is the Founder & CEO of Mother of Fact. As a Licensed Registered Dietitian, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Mom of 3, she's helped thousands of families in many low/middle income communities feel confident and supported in their feeding journey. Her mission is to eliminate the deficit of equitable breastfeeding & formula feeding help for all households & healthcare systems.
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