Am I Nursing Too Much?

Right off the bat as parents we are faced with challenges. One of the very first of these challenges is figuring out how to feed our babies. No matter how you choose to feed your baby, learning your baby’s hunger cues will be key. It is natural to want to make sure your baby is getting enough food, and ensuring that your little one is nourished and thriving. The flip side of worrying if they are getting enough, is worrying if they are getting too much. Do you ask yourself, “Am I Nursing Too Much?” Let’s look at this a bit closer. 

Am I Nursing Too Much?

HOW OFTEN SHOULD BABY FEED? Am I nursing too much?

Baby’s feed often when they are newborn. Their stomachs start out around the size of a cherry and progressively get larger in the first few weeks. It is normal for baby’s to feed every 1-4 hours. This can definitely vary, as feeding every hour would signify cluster feeding, and while it is very normal, it is not usually ongoing. When babies are newborn, we want them to feed often to help bring your milk in by signaling your body to produce to the demands of the baby. Generally feeding your newborn every 2-3 hours will help your supply, help baby adjust to the world outside the womb, as well as helping Mom heal and bond with the baby. As your baby gets older they will be able to go longer stretches as their stomach grows, giving you somewhere between 3-4 hours between feedings. 

WHAT IS AN EFFECTIVE FEED? 

Rather than focusing on if the baby is getting too much or too little, let’s shift the focus to whether or not the baby is having an effective feed. So what is an effective feed? We want to see a good latch, good transfer of milk from breast to baby, and we want to see signs that is satisfied between feedings. A good latch will include a big, asymmetrical latch, with top and bottom lips flipped out. Babe will take in more of the bottom of the areola, which allows more breast to enter the mouth and will help stimulate the milk ducts and glands. Listening for transfer of milk and swallowing is important to ensure babe is getting the milk. Big sucks and swallows are great, and when baby starts to pause, or flutter suck, we want to compress the breast to stimulate baby to start sucking again. If baby pauses or starts to flutter again, take baby off, burp and switch sides. By doing this, we are offering baby every opportunity to take in milk, even if he/she is getting drowsy at the breast. The compression when baby pauses and flutters can really help ensure an effective feeding. By completely emptying the first breast with an effective feed, we can then offer the second breast and give baby another opportunity to feed. 

Am I Nursing Too Much?

HUNGER CUES VS. FULL/ CONTENT 

When your baby is hungry, often they will cry, get fussy, not settle with other attempts (ie. diaper change, rocking, distraction), they will often root- trying to find the nipple to suckle, and may appear frantic to suck. After a feeding, baby should be relaxed (look at the hands- are they open and soft, or closed and clenched?), calm, and content. Avoid watching the clock or timing feeds. Follow your baby’s lead, and ensure an effective feed on demand. Other signs that your baby is getting enough to eat are adequate wet and dirty diapers in a day, normal poopy diapers, gaining weight appropriately, and normal/expected overall development. If you have any concerns with any of those things you should see your health care provider for assessment. Are you still asking yourself, Am I nursing too much?

Am I Nursing Too Much?

Overall, learning what your baby’s individual hunger cues, along with ensuring a good latch will be very helpful to ensuring that your baby is on the way to effective feeding. Keeping an eye on wet and dirty diapers and baby’s weight and development will also give you a good indication of whether your baby is getting enough nutrition. If in doubt- get checked out! 

If you are finding it difficult to get a good latch, are unsure if things are on track or not, reach out to your local Mama Coach, we are happy to help you out with support for you and your baby. You Got This!

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