New mothers have many questions about breast-feeding. While it looks simple, there are fundamental questions like “how often should I breastfeed?” that can seem not-so-simple to answer in the beginning.
When you bring your baby home from the hospital, you can expect to feed the baby eight to twelve times a day. This may be more frequently than someone who is bottle-feeding. The reason for this that breast milk digests quickly. Therefore, a baby will get hungry sooner than a bottle-fed baby. While it will be tiring, the frequent breast-feeding will help your body produce more milk. By the time the little one reaches 1 or 2 months of age, breastfeeding will decrease to seven or eight times each day.
Until you establish a constant milk supply, demand feedings are the best way to feed your baby. This will be every 1 ½ to every 2 hours. As the baby gets a little older, the feedings will be less frequent. Some may lengthen the time between feedings to every two or three hours. Some will stay on the 1 ½-2 hour schedule. In either case, you should not allow your newborn to go more than four hours between feedings. This includes the nighttime schedule for your baby. Do not go more than four hours.
Your feeding interval begins with the start of your feeding. If you feed your baby at six a.m., you should not wait past ten a.m. to feed the baby again. This will keep the baby on a four-hour schedule. Both you and the baby will establish the routine. The round the clock schedule will continue for awhile, but will eventually become predictable and routine.
It is so important to get yourself and your baby into a routine with breastfeeding, and sadly, this is where many mothers make mistakes by feeding too often. Knowing the signals with your baby, so you can differentiate between hungry cries, gassy cries, or uncomfortable cries is the first step.
Once you have a schedule established, attempt to feed your baby before he gets so hungry that he begins to cry from hunger. Crying indicates that the baby has been hungry for too long.