Many questions may arise as you begin to feed your new baby. Every mother and baby have different needs and requirements, making it important to consult your doctor throughout this period if you are making changes or encounter any issues. This article shares 5 things to know about feeding your baby, and provides helpful resources and information relating to common feeding queries mothers may have.
Particularly for first time mums, seek advice where you can while you’re learning to breastfeed. For some mothers and babies, it comes easily, while others may have difficulties along the way. After the birth of your baby – a midwife or lactation consultant will introduce you to breastfeeding. When you return home, you will see a midwife or child health nurse to check how you and baby are going. They can provide you with further feeding tips, answer your questions and will check baby’s weight to ensure they are drinking enough. In the beginning you can expect to feed around 7-12 times over 24 hours and to change at least six wet nappies and one dirty nappy.
Your milk ‘comes in’ between day two and five after delivery and your breasts will feel fuller and yes, more uncomfortable. This is a normal part of the process but when you are in pain, your breasts are hard, and baby is struggling to feed, this is called engorgement. Try to treat it early. The Australian Breastfeeding Association recommends gently massaging your breast to soften the tissue and use a warm cloth to help trigger your ‘let down’ reflex. Tummytalks.com.au suggests feeding “your baby frequently 2-3 hourly, don’t limit baby’s time at the breast. Check baby is positioned and attached correctly to ensure the breast is draining well during the feed. It may be helpful to take your bra off to feed. A warm shower can help relieve some pressure just before feeding.”
You can also try expressing some milk to make it easier for baby to attach. Have a breast-pump ready to go before birth and learn how to use it. You don’t want to wake at 3:00am with rock-hard boobs, a hungry baby and attempt to assemble your new milking machine.
For additional relief in between feeds, use cold compresses for 15-20 minutes.
Nipple cream and nipple shields will help with the pain (which will eventually ease), while breast pads are handy for leakage protection. If you want to use a dummy / pacifier, Queensland Health recommends ‘waiting until breastfeeding is established – usually by 4 weeks.’ Also avoid bottles in the early days if you can too, as this might cause “nipple confusion.” For everything breastfeeding related the Australian Breastfeeding Association has you covered at www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo Or you can call their helpline on 1800 686 268 to speak to trained volunteer mothers who can help with your concerns 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For a step-by-step guide to helping with your baby’s attachment visit www.thewomens.org.au
If you’re unable to breastfeed or are mixed feeding, there are a range of infant formulas to choose from. All Australian approved formulas provide babies with the nutrition they need but special or soy-based formula is only recommended for medical reasons. Speak to your doctor or health nurse about what is suitable for your little one. Also avoid giving your baby cow’s milk before 12 months of age as their stomachs are unable to break it down.
How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk? You can use the supply on demand technique. The Queensland Government Health Department recommends the following as a guideline:
5 days to 3 months old: 150mL per kilogram of body weight each day.
3 to 6 months old: 120mL per kilogram of body weight each day.
6 to 12 months old: 100mL per kilogram of body weight each day. Babies at this age also eat complementary foods.
Colic affects around one in three babies, usually between the ages of two weeks and 16 weeks. The good news is babies usually outgrow colic around the age of three to four months old. Symptoms of colic include unexplained and regular daily crying. Bouts of crying may last for three hours or more, and happen typically late afternoon or early evening. It’s difficult or impossible to settle with regular soothing techniques. Their faces may redden and appear to experience pain in their abdomen, pulling their legs up to their chest or arching their back. They may also frantically look to feed, only to reject the milk as soon as they start sucking. You may also see an increase in bowel movements.
The cause is unknown, but the following are Potential Causes:
Diet. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onion, cow’s milk and chocolate in the mother’s diet can cause colic in breast-fed babies. Caffeinated drinks. Your baby is unable to breakdown caffeine, causing them pain and irritability. Formula. Some babies may have an allergy to cow’s milk proteins. Immature digestive system. Milk may digest too quickly and not completely break down causing abdominal pain.
If your baby is showing symptoms of colic, see your GP to determine whether there is an underlying health issue, or if it is in fact colic. You can also discuss yours and baby’s nutritional needs if you are considering making any changes.
For tips on comforting a colicky baby and reducing your stress during what can be a difficult time, visit the Better Health Channel.
Soon enough you will find your rhythm with the new addition to your family. Feeding time is a beautiful bonding experience that will be over before you know it. You will exchange smiles while gazing down at their button nose and their soft hand wraps around your finger or explores the features of your face. Take a breath and treasure the moment.
For helpful advice on breastfeeding, tune into episode 79 of the PakMag Parents Podcast with Midwife Cath sharing the dos and don’ts of breastfeeding www.pakmag.com.au. Cath Curtain has delivered thousands of babies throughout her 45-year career. Find out more about Cath, book a consultation (available over phone and skype) at www.midwifecathsvillage.com.au