Since this adorable tiny human can’t talk yet, it’s natural to wonder how it’s going, especially during those first few weeks as you learn Baby’s cues and rhythms. While every baby is different, here are a few signs to guide you:
- Does Baby have balled up fists? Hungry!
- Does Baby turn their head toward you when you brush your finger on their cheek? Hungry!
- Is Baby rooting, sucking or smacking their lips? Hungry!
(Note: Those signs are for a full-term newborn; preemies will need to be on a timed feeding schedule, under the direction of your pediatrician and/or lactation professional, and may not exhibit all of the same cues.)
Newborns will feed on a 24-hour clock, about every 2 to 3 hours the first month. So if you feel like you’re constantly breastfeeding, guess what? You are. That’s why you actually need more calories when breastfeeding than you do while pregnant.
Let’s be real: This 24-hour life is exhausting. But please know that it won’t always be like this, and day-by-day your baby’s tummy will get a bit bigger and they’ll empty your breasts more efficiently and start going longer stretches between feedings.
As they gain weight and grow, cluster feedings—shorter nursing sessions that happen in quick succession—are totally normally and not a “forever” habit. If Baby is cluster feeding a few days in a row, go with it. They are signaling your body that it’s time to ramp up milk production to meet their needs. This isn’t the time to hold back or try to put Baby on a schedule.
Once your breastfeeding relationship is well established, you may want to consider introducing some pumping, even if you’re exclusively at home. It’s a great way to get your partner involved with feedings, and it’ll give you a few precious moments alone. (It’s OK and normal to want—and take—some space!) You can use a manual pump or something like the Philips Avent Double Electric Breast Pump, Advanced, which I particularly like because it has customizable levels for stimulation and suction.
Overall, the best indicator for how well feeding is going is your baby’s weight. Is Baby gaining weight? Great. Keep it up! Is baby feeding regularly and not gaining weight? You’re still doing great…and now it’s time to get a little support in the form of a lactation expert. More on that below.