It it normal for young babies to breastfeed 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. Often feeding more frequently (cluster feeding) in the late afternoon/early evening.
Actual sucking time in the early weeks may vary from feed to feed. Let your baby feed on one side until they stop, softening and draining the Brest. Offer the second side if they want more, aiming to complete the feed in around 40-50mins.
Breastfeeding, while natural, is a learned skill for most mothers and like many things worth doing takes time, practice and patience. If you are experiencing challenges or difficulties with breastfeeding it is best to seek advice and support early to minimise compounding problems which can lead to early weaning.
Great resources are:
How can you improve your milk supply?
Breast milk supply adjusts to the baby’s demands. If you want to increase your milk supply, feeding your baby more frequently (up to 2-3 hourly) during the day and expressing afterwards to empty the breasts will help.
Illness, anxiety and some medications can decrease milk supply. When prescribed medications, always check that your practitioner knows that you are breast feeding.
In some cases you may be prescribed a medication to increase your milk production.
For further information on improving your milk supply, please see the website of the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
How much weight should your baby gain?
Babies gain weight at different rates. Some general guidelines include:
Remember that different scales can vary in accuracy. It is best to get your baby weighed on the same scales each time.
Weight gain does not happen at a constant rate. Your baby may gain a small amount of weight one week and a much larger amount the week after.
The WHO growth charts provide a guide to healthy weight gain in babies.
How much milk does your baby need?
If your baby is formula fed, or feeding on expressed breast milk, they will need approximately 150ml/kg/day of milk to grow. For instance, a 4 kg baby would take about 600ml in a day or 75-100ml every 3-4 hours.
This is only a guideline. Some babies will demand more milk, some babies will take less. Please see your doctor if your baby is consistently taking much less than this.
How do you know that your breast fed baby is getting enough milk?
Around 95% of breast feeding mothers will produce enough breast milk for their baby’s needs.
Signs that a baby is receiving adequate breast milk include:
If your baby fits this pattern, you can be confident that they are getting enough milk.