As a Postpartum Doula I can honestly say that most of my time with parents is spent discussing feeding and sleeping habits (of both babies and parents!).
Concern over your baby's feeding pattern is natural, everyone wants to know that their baby is eating the right amount for healthy development.
EMPOWA YOUR MOTHERHOOD with Kathy's super simple Feeding Rhythm Guide
Type of Milk: Breastmilk
Method of Feeding: Direct Latch
Approx 12 small feeds a day. Ideally on demand, but if baby isn't waking naturally for them then ensure you are waking every 3 hours. Kathy finds that the perfect way to establish direct latching in the days whilst you are in the hospital is to aim for feeding every 2 hours, 10 mins per breast.
Approx 10 feeds a day. Ideally on demand, but during the night wake and feed every 3 hours but during the day you can feed a little more frequently.
How to know that your baby is eating enough?
Wet Nappies - On day one we expect at least 1 wet nappy, day two, 2 nappies, day three, 3 nappies, day four, 4 nappies and day five, 5 nappies, after this 6 - 8 wet nappies is normal. As the day's go on the nappies should become noticeably heavier and obvious that your baby has pee'd
Dirty Nappies - The first few days your baby should be producing dark black/green poos to eliminate the meconium in their body. As this changes to normal orange/brown/yellow poo it is normal for a baby to poo at least once or more times a day
Steady weight gain - once you baby has regained their birth weight and after the first 2 weeks, your baby should gain about 150-200 grams per week until they are 4 months old and then the weight gain may slow down a little
Your baby is active and happy - THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SIGN - A child that’s eating well will look alert and be active. They’ll also seem content between feedings
Between now and the end of your fourth trimester (12 weeks) Kathy encourages new parents to continue feeding on demand, with a focus on developing healthy sleep rhythms, as opposed to obsessing about feeding.
As you baby's sleep rhythms start to align with more adult like circadian rhythms, then their feeding rhythm will also begin to mature and align with your day to day routine (by routine Kathy does not mean that you need to follow a strict routine, she simply means the routine of whatever is you new normal life as parent).
From day 14 onwards Kathy encourages parents to be more mindful of ensuring babies are offered a healthy sleep environment, at times that are appropriate for their age, and to trust that a healthy baby will sleep well, with the natural consequence that they will feed well.
Kathy explains to new parents on a regular basis that sleep and feeding is inextricably linked
A baby that sleeps well = a baby that feeds well
A baby that feeds well = a baby that sleeps well
At 14 days expect that your baby's healthy awake window to be between 45 and 60 mins, which means that you will need to ensure their feeds are active, and that when they feed they are transitioning milk from the breast well. Once they have fed, and been awake for approx 45 mins, burp them, swaddle them and place, or hold them, in a place that is conducive for sleep.
If feeding is lasting longer than 45 mins speak with someone that can help you to ascertain if they are actively feeding at the breast and transitioning milk well. You can request a list of recommend Lactation Specialists below:
What if you baby is a big spitter upper? Do as Kathy suggests above but hold your baby upright (after being burped and swaddled) until they are sound asleep (and at least 15 mins).
Gas is now a major factor in feeding. Their awake window is likely to be approx 60 mins now, and their feeding time should have reduced a little.
Babies become more efficient at feeding, and can extract milk faster, as they get better at it. So this extra little bit of time should allow you to try to ensure that your baby's stomach is gas free BEFORE every day-time feed.
For hints and tips of how to do this see Kathy's 5 Ways to Facilitate Farts article here >>>
If you follow the Wonder Weeks then you will know that you are heading in to some big developmental times for your little one.
Their little brains may also be full of new activity, making sleep a little harder, and necessitating a little more help from their parents and caregivers to fall into a healthy sleep rhythm.
But Kathy always stresses how important it is to support your baby to maintain a healthy sleep rhythm, with age appropriate awake windows, to ensure they always have the energy to feed actively at every feed - the long term goal is that they will feed so effectively in the day time, that night time waking ceases at an age appropriate time. So focusing on healthy awake windows, and active feeds during the day WILL REWARD YOU WITH BETTER NIGHT TIME SLEEP!
A super quick guide to age appropriate awake windows
Birth - 6 weeks: 45 to 60 mins
6 weeks - 3 months: 60 mins to 105 mins
3 - 6 months: 90 mins to 150 mins
How to know if your baby is still feeding so frequently due to a problem with breastfeeding, or due to lack of energy (poor sleep rhythm)?
Check the list of signs that your baby is feeding enough >>> How to know that your baby is eating enough?
If you believe they are genuinely hungry too often then request Kathy's list of recommended Lactation Specialists >>> Request list of recommended Lactation Specialists
If you are not seeing signs of latch or feeding problems, check whether your baby is awake a little too long between naps >>> A super quick guide to age appropriate awake windows
If you need help with establishing a Sleep Rhythm for your baby and family then you can request a consultation with Kathy.
If you need specific help between the hours of 6pm and 9pm you can try Empowa's Witching Hours Support. During this service we hold your hands through the toughest time of day, to help you establish a healthy bed time routine. Please note this is a premium service and you may wish to have a standard POSTpartum Consultation first to understand basic Sleep Rhythm practices before investing in the Witching Hours Support (just being honest here as we wouldn't want you to use valuable premium service hours for basic training concepts).