Adapted from the Medela Breastfeeding Information Guide
While every breastfeeding experience is different, there are some common questions that you may find yourself asking as a new mom—particularly “How often should I nurse?” Here are a few guidelines and tips to keep in mind when breastfeeding your new babe.
Feeding on Demand
Generally speaking, you will be advised to nurse your baby when he or she is hungry, usually anywhere from 6 to 10 or 12 times a day. This is called feeding on demand and it is very important for growing your milk supply at the same pace as your baby’s needs increase. Your breastmilk supply will adjust to your baby’s appetite and growth rate. You can offer both breasts at each session, alternating the starting breast each time, though your baby may prefer one to the other. The preferred breast will likley be your more productive breast.
If you are having trouble remembering what side you nursed on last, there are a few tricks you can use:
How Long Should Each Nursing Session Last?
The length of time it takes your baby to nurse will depend on how quickly your milk ejection reflex happens and how old your baby is. At first, your baby may take 15 minutes or more on each side, but as she gets older and gets the hang of things, she may only need five or 10 minutes per side.
It is important to keep in mind that not every breastfeeding experience will be the same, because every woman is different. Some moms have a large storage capacity for milk in their breasts, and some have a smaller storage capacity. A mom’s storage capacity doesn’t translate to milk production capacity. It simply means that moms with a smaller storage capacity may have babes that need to feed more frequently, and that a baby may use both breasts when feeding.
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