Every child is unique and responds differently to breastfeeding. This is a period for you and bubs to experience more together, but it takes time to establish feeding, so don't pressure yourself with expectations of how often or how long your baby is supposed to feed. Understanding your baby’s breastfeeding habits allows you to make sense of common feeding cues and set up your nursing schedule.
While your cherub will probably settle into a pattern of feeding six to eight times a day (every two to three hours) the trick is to meet his demands initially. Allow him to feed for as long as he wants and let him finish one breast first. If he stops suckling, use this break to burp him. Then offer the second side, which he may or may not take. At your next feed, ensure that your kewpie gets all the hind milk (milk at the end of a feeding, which has a higher fat content) by latching him on the breast he last nursed from.
Here’s how to identify which nursing style your baby belongs to, and to deal with it without getting upset.
A big, hungry baby
They may be chubby and oh-so-cute, but big babies also have an insatiable appetite, which can drain you physically and emotionally. "My son was 3.6kg at birth and had doubled his birth weight by week eight," recalls Lucy Tan, 31, mum to Samuel, 2. "He was enormous and I was exhausted from feeding him every hour, round the clock."
Try this: The key with a big baby is to feed him as soon as possible. Get him on the breast quickly after labour and feed him often, according to breastfeeding experts. Your milk supply increases with demand, so it will get you through the growth spurts. Remember to keep yourself hydrated by eating a healthy diet consisting of fruit and veggies. And always have a large glass of water at hand when feeding.
A tongue-tie baby
Tongue-tie is caused by a tight or short frenulum (the membrane that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth). When this doesn't recede before birth, tongue-tie occurs, restricting movement and sometimes making it difficult for your mini-me to latch on. It's more common in boys and can be genetic. It may also result in poor weight gain for your baby, sore nipples for you, which causes lots of frustration for the both of you.
Try this: Tongue-tie usually resolves itself after a year as your tyke's tongue grows, but it's not going to help you with your current breastfeeding woes. If it's affecting feeding, consult your GP. He may refer your baby to a surgeon for a frenectomy, which involves a small snip to separate the frenulum from the base of the mouth.
A constant grazer
Once the feeding frenzy of the first few weeks is over, most new mums hope their mini-me will settle into a routine. However, there's always a possibility that your munchkin could graze round the clock for months on end, which can leave you feeling frazzled. "My son never seemed satisfied," admits Nur Sarah, 34, mum to Zaharil, 14 weeks. "He was on me all day and night and I was exhausted."
Try this: Sometimes, babies do this because their latch isn't great and they aren't getting enough during each feed, so it's wise to get a midwife to check it out. Also, try to read your kewpie's cues. Is he actually hungry, or does he just want a cuddle or a nap? Get the hubby to carry him for a while to see if your sweetie settles when he can't smell your milk.
A reflux baby
This is a common condition, where your offspring's milk comes back up into his food pipe or mouth. A baby's stomach contains acid that helps with digestion, so reflux can be painful when he vomits up most of it.
Try this: Reflux will ease when you start weaning, but there's plenty you can do in the meantime. First, get a proper reflux diagnosis from your GP, who may recommend an antacid-type medication suitable for your little one. Keeping your reflux baby upright during and after feeds helps, as does feeding him smaller amounts and often. You can also soothe his upset tummy with a calm bath.