Knowing when to nurse your baby seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world. However, there are so many different recommendations out there about what to do - If you should schedule, if you should not, how long to nurse on each breast, how long to wait in between nursing sessions. It can all become very confusing. However, you and your baby are designed to work together in harmony. Trust that if you respond to your baby and trust your babies nursing cues, you and your baby will find your rhythm together. Take a deep breath and calm your heart and mind. It is so easy to get overwhelmed as a momma. You undoubtedly want what is best for your baby.
Building a Milk Supply: The First Few Months
Human babies are very frequent nursers, especially when you are first working together to build your milk supply. The first few weeks and months of breastfeeding build the foundation for your breastfeeding relationship. Allowing your newborn to nurse whenever they want, for however long they want, will help to communicate to your body how much milk to make. This unrestricted nursing for the first month to six weeks really lays the groundwork for you to have a strong milk supply for the long term.
And yes, your baby can really want to nurse 10 minutes after he just got done nursing. Remember that your babies tummy is tiny. The first couple of days, he is only getting very small amounts of colostrum when he nurses, because it takes a couple of days for your milk to come in . This is completely normal and your baby's body is designed to handle this. It also means that he will want to nurse a lot! This is okay and nothing to be worried about. It does not mean that he is not getting enough. It does not mean that you are not making enough milk. It does not mean that you need to supplement. It just means that you need to keep breastfeeding. Your milk will come in and you will still want to keep responding to your baby's cues and keep nursing your baby when he wants to nurse.
Of course, things do begin to change if you need to return to work either full or part-time. However, for as long as you can, continue to nurse your baby on demand. This is the best way to establish a strong milk supply. Our nourishing teas and tinctures can help to support and boost your milk supply.
Exclusively Breastfeeding and Staying with Baby
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, that is, you are not supplementing with any formula, and you are with your baby almost all the time, you can most likely nurse on demand. Nursing on demand is the way that human babies are designed to nurse. In mammals that nurse infrequently, their milk has a high concentration of fat and protein. However, human milk has a low concentration of both fat and protein, supporting what babies tell us they want, which is to breastfeed often.
Breastfeeding on demand can seem like it is inconvenient to our sometimes very scheduled way of life. As your baby gets bigger and breastfeeding becomes easier for you both, nursing on demand will not take up quite as much of your time. As your baby grows, she will begin to naturally space her nursing sessions out.
Return to Work and Pump
If you decide to return to work and pump when you are at work, you will want to support your efforts by breastfeeding when you are home with your baby as much as you can. You may find that if you are working a full-time schedule, your milk supply may begin to drop by the end of the week, but you can spend your days off snuggling and breastfeeding your baby as much as you are able. This will help to boost your milk supply. You can also support a healthy supply with our nourishing tinctures and teas.
If you are working a part-time schedule, breastfeeding as often as you can when you are with your baby is still a good idea. This will support your strong milk supply when you are away from your baby, and your pumping efforts if you do need to pump.
Return to Work and Supplement
If you return to work and decide to supplement and not use a breast pump at all, your body will begin to make less milk. Remember that your milk supply is based on how much your body gets the information that the milk is needed, whether that be through a baby or a breast pump (it’s also important to point out that not every momma can get milk out when she pumps, and this has no relationship on how much milk she is making for her baby when the baby breastfeeds).
Whatever amount of breast milk your baby receives from you is going to be beneficial. If you decide to return to work and supplement, know that you will begin to lose your milk supply. There are many, many factors that go into making the decision to supplement or not. Make the decision with a clear head and heart if you do decide that is best for you and your baby.
Baby has Started Solid Foods
Babies first solid foods usually happen anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. There is a saying, “Food before one is just for fun!” meaning that most often, babies do not get the majority of their nutrition from solid foods until after they are a year old. However, each baby is different, and your baby may love solid foods and decrease their breastfeeding amounts right away. Or they may just play with their food until they are 14 months old and continue to breastfeed frequently. Each baby is different, but at some point, your baby will begin to rely more on solid food than your breast milk for the nutrition that she needs. When this transition is happening, follow your babies cues as much as you can and continue to breastfeed if you are able. There will be some transition time.
Breastfeeding your baby often comes with many questions, but know that most of them can be answered by listening to your heart and following your babies cues. We give so much of ourselves as mothers, and it is sometimes hard to trust ourselves with all of the other information that is out there. Be still, open to your heart and let your love and milk flow!