Responsive breastfeeding | breastfedbabies
Feeding your baby as often as he shows signs of wanting to breastfeed will help make sure that you produce the amount of milk your baby needs. Responsive feeding means that you respond to your baby’s early feeding cues, these are things like starting to waken, licking his lips, making sucking noises and sucking his fingers.
It also means that you offer the breast for comfort as well as food. Breastfed babies cannot be overfed, so you can use breastfeeding to soothe and calm baby and as an opportunity to relax and have a nice sit down whenever you both want.
Young babies will usually want to feed at least 8-12 times in 24 hours. Some feeds will seem very close together and others a bit more spaced. If you try to time the feeds or feed to a schedule (like a certain number of minutes on each breast every three or four hours) you may upset the demand and supply mechanism that ensures you produce enough milk to meet your baby’s needs.
Breastmilk itself has a component known as “inhibitory factor”. A build up of this factor within the breasts causes the production of milk to slow down. If you don’t keep removing milk (by feeding or expressing), over time your milk supply will dwindle away. This is what happens in women who choose not to breastfeed – over a period of days or weeks their breasts stop making milk.
If you can, it’s best not to introduce formula while breastfeeding. Formula milk is harder for a baby to digest, so it stays in the stomach for longer. This can make your baby less keen to breastfeed, which in turn will mean that your body thinks less milk is needed, so you produce less. If you do decide to give some formula, try to limit the amount of formula you give your baby and keep breastfeeding as much as possible.
While you and your baby are learning to breastfeed, giving a dummy may confuse your baby, meaning that he sucks less effectively and gets less milk. The sucking action used to take milk from a bottle is totally different. Dummies may also cause problems with your milk supply as it may reduce the time baby spends at the breast.