The first few weeks with a new baby can be filled with uncertainty. We put your mind at ease and answer five of your most-asked questions. By Tammy Jacks
How can I tell if my baby is getting enough breast milk?
One of the easiest, and most accurate, ways to tell if your little one is getting enough milk is to check her weight at least once a week in the early days. If she has good colour, seems content after each feed and is gaining weight steadily each week, she’s probably getting enough milk. Another important way to gauge if she’s drinking enough is to check her nappies. Your little one should have at least four to six wet nappies a day. Breastfeeding on demand is also a great way to ensure breastfeeding success for both you and your baby, says parenting expert Heidi Murkoff. Watch your baby rather than the clock and don’t switch breasts too soon. Your little one needs to drink the foremilk as well as the hindmilk, which is thicker and richer in nutrients, says Heidi.
In the early days when your baby is sleepy more than hungry, you’ll have to initiate most of the feeds. Heidi suggests striving for at least eight to 12 feeds a day, even if the demand isn’t quite there yet.
What do I do if I have low milk supply?
Your body gets the signal to make more breast milk when your breasts are empty, according to experts at the American Pregnancy Association, so the trick is to breastfeed as much as possible in the early days, and to relax when feeding. Speak to a lactation consultant, who will be able to assist with when and how to help your baby latch and feed efficiently. If your milk supply is still low, a number of herbal remedies may help boost it. Some of these include fenugreek, blessed thistle and alfalfa, say researchers from the American Pregnancy Association.
Should I nap when my baby does?
Yes, as studies have shown that stress and fatigue can contribute to depression and low milk supply. However, there’s often a long to-do list waiting for you as soon as you put your little one down, including eating and taking a shower! The truth is, most chores can wait and you should prioritise your needs as well as your baby’s in the first few months. Put your mind at ease by writing a list of things that need to be done when your baby naps in order of importance and don’t worry if you don’t tackle all of them. Make sure to schedule in sleep and rest time for yourself too, even if it means a quick 20-minute power nap.
The Mayo Clinic suggests:
- Asking for help. If friends and family visit, ask them to watch your baby while you take a nap. You could also ask your family to run some errands, cook or tidy the kitchen. There’s nothing wrong with some delegation!
- Resting as much as possible. This doesn’t have to mean sleeping. Lie down when you can and consider bringing your baby into your bed for nursing or snuggling so that you’re comfortable too.
- Split night-time duties if possible. Work out a schedule with your partner that allows you to take turns and both get the rest you need.
Can I take my baby out in the first two weeks?
Absolutely, says Heidi. “The old wives’ tales that have kept newborns and new parents captives in their own homes for at least two weeks postpartum aren’t valid,” she explains. A healthy, full-term baby will cope with a stroll to the park, a visit to granny’s house or even a short trip to the supermarket. However, “in flu season, you might want to limit your baby’s exposure to indoor crowds and the germs they carry for the first six to eight weeks,” says Heidi. If you’re up for the exercise, a daily walk in the fresh air will do you both good.
How soon do I need to establish a routine for my newborn?
Unless you have twins and want to get them onto a similar feeding and sleeping schedule, you don’t need to establish any kind of formal routine in the first six to 12 weeks, says registered nurse Ann Richardson. Keep this flexible routine, (outlined in the book, Baby Sense, which she co-authored) in mind for the first two weeks:
- Your baby should be feeding every two to three hours during the day. (Possibly more during warm summer months.)
- Night feeds may become less frequent and your little one may start to sleep for four to five-hour stretches at night.
- Limit her awake time to 40-60 minutes to reduce the risk of overstimulation.
- Your baby should be sleeping for a large part of the day, about 18-20 hours in a 24-hour cycle.
- Once you hit the six-week mark, your little one might go through a growth spurt, which could last 24 hours. You may need to feed every two hours until she settles again.
Tammy is a wife, mom and freelance writer with 15 years’ experience in the media industry. She specialises in general lifestyle topics related to health, wellness and parenting. Tammy has a passion for fitness and the great outdoors. If she’s not running around after her daughter, you’ll find her off the beaten track, running, hiking or riding her bike. Learn more about Tammy Jacks .