If you are currently attempting to successfully breastfeed a newborn (or about to give birth and are planning to breastfeed) I bet you already know about the advice to feed your baby often, as much as 8-12 times per day. Don’t know if you’ve done the math on that one yet, but it’s not hard to figure out that if your baby eats the recommended eight times, you’ll be feeding him about every three hours. And if she eats the potential twelve times, you’ll be feeding her about every two hours. And so on.
Simple, right? But what do you do if your sleepy newborn, unlike the baby on the advice websites or in the breastfeeding books, does not wake every two to three hours to breastfeed? What, if like so many sleepy newborns I’ve met, your baby seems to want to sleep for three and half or four or even five straight hours, especially during the first two weeks of life or after being outdoors for just a few minutes? How will you fit in the advised number of feedings if your baby seems to want to sleep longer?
Don’t panic. It’s simple. In order to feed your newborn the prescribed (and important) number of 8-12 times you might actually need to wake him or her up to breastfeed.
That’s right. I suggested waking a sleeping baby.
At least in the first few weeks after birth. And until you are sure your milk has begun to flow abundantly and your baby’s weight rises back up to birth weight or beyond. Contrary to some “old wives tale” advice, you do sometimes meed to wake a sleeping baby for the important task of breastfeeding.
So go right ahead and wake your newborn when he/she goes past the 2.5 or 3 hour mark. Especially if it’s during the day. Or at night if your pediatrician suggested it, your baby is under 6 pounds, or there is any concern about jaundice or low weight gain.
Coming next: Baby Basics Bootcamp
Elaine Petrowski is a certified postpartum doula (DONA) with more than a dozen years of experience. As a postpartum doula, my mission is to help new parents to quickly gain confidence in their parenting skills. Contact Elaine at www.tendertimesdoula.com, 973-291-8200.
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