That you choose to breastfeed, formula feed, or both is your decision and we hope that you are supported in your choice (regardless of it!). Whatever approach you choose, your baby’s nutrition and emotional need will be met!
And if you want to breast feed or formula feed but it is not going as well as you would like, reach out to your local resources. Every mother and family should feel supported in achieving their health and nutrition role.
Fed is best. But the first days (hours!) back home with your newborn can be overwhelming.
Feeding your newborn until s/he reaches her/his birth weight
Newborn babies are expected to lose between 5 and 10% of their birth weight in the first few days of life. It is due to the loss of excess fluid. After all, they used to lived in the womb, surrounded by the amniotic fluid!
Because feeding is all very new for baby (and parents!), it might be important to keep an eye on the clock and feed every 2 hours until baby reaches his/her birth weight, around 2 weeks of age. Everyone needs to learn the rope and get comfortable with feeding. The more opportunity the better.
In the very first days after birth, it might be necessary to wake up your baby regularly to feed him/her.
How often do you need to feed your newborn?
Babies eat often. Always.
You can expect your baby to nurse 8 to 12 times per 24 hour.
Than can translate to every 2-3 hours! The other important detail (!) is that you can expect to feed for a period of up to 45minutes each time, leaving you very little room in between feeding sessions.
You might feel like that is the only thing you are doing…and you’re probably right! Breastfed babies tend to eat more frequently because breast milk is digested faster than formula milk.
Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, get comfortable and organize yourself a nursing station: book, cell phone, tv, snacks, lip balm, water bottle, tissue, burping cloth, blanket… everything you need to survive a whole day without moving!
You might feel that you are feeding baby frequently, and for long period of times. So get comfortable!
What does it mean to feed your newborn “on demand”?
Once baby has gain back his/her weight, you can move towards feeding on demand. What does that even mean? To simply forget the clock, and feed when baby show signs of hunger.
Signs baby is hungry
moving head from side to side
reaching for the breast
sucking on his/her fist
smacking his lips
Feeding on demand implies that you stay alert to your baby’s signs of hunger and honour them regardless of the time of day (or night!).
Is it enough milk? How to know if you are feeding your newborn adequately?
In addition to feeding on demand and adopting a responsive feeding approach, you can keep an eye on baby’s diaper. Keep tract of the number of wet diapers and number of stool baby passes per 24h.
Not sure what a “wet” diaper is? Take one of the diapers you bought and drop 1-2 table spoon of water on it. There you go! The disposable diapers have these little pellets that absorb the liquid and turn into jelly. Some brands also have the strip that changes colour when wet, but depending on the volume of pee, it might not be sufficient to make it turn colour. Cloth diaper might be easier to notice when wet, but again in doubt, simply try to wet it and get a feel! Just like for adults, the colour of the urine is an indication of your baby’s hydration: dark pee = dehydrated, light pee = well fed/hydrated.
In term of bowel movement, once the first poop is passed (that really stick dark meconium poop) baby will slowly get more regular and might have 2-3 bowel movement every day. Because baby only eats milk, expect a very runny, yellow and seedy stool. As the bowels mature and baby drinks more and more milk, the stool might become less frequent and more formed.
Everything that comes in must come out. Watch the diaper to make sure baby is getting enough milk.
Should I worry? My newborn spits up after feeding
Babies can spit up a little bit or burp after the feed. That is normal as they might swallow air as they feed. Ultimately as the milk settle in the stomach, the air will come out – and there is your burp or regurgitation (with or without curdle milk!)
What is not normal is vomiting after a feed or if you notice your baby seem very uncomfortable. If you feel something is unusual or getting worst, seek help from your doctor. Vomiting or reflux can be a sign of allergy, digestive problems or other health conditions.
Tips to minimize spit up
Try new feeding position, perhaps holding baby upright so that the milk stays in the stomach!
Keep baby sitting up or at least not fully laying down for 30 minutes after the feed. A baby carrier can become handy!
Although you have little control, slow down the feeding. Trying to feed in a calm atmosphere. If using a bottle, try different nipple with various size holes that can slow down the feed.
While burping is totally normal, vomiting after a feed should be assessed by your doctor.
Does my newborn need an iron supplement?
No. Assuming that you ate well during your pregnancy, your baby has gathered a sufficient iron store to last for the first 6 months of life. There is no need to give a supplement of iron, unless there was birth complications or if your doctor indicated so.
When 6 month rolls in, baby will start eating solid food and that is when the iron-rich food first will be important.
Baby got himself a nice iron reserve that will last for the first 6 months of life – no need for a supplement.
Does my newborn need water?
Baby doesn’t need any water (or other fluid) until he eats solid food. Stick to the milk (breast or formula).
If the weather is warm, feed baby more often to ensure a good hydration. If baby is sick or is going through a growth surge, feed on demand even if it means almost non stop for what might seems the whole day!
Baby doesn’t need water. Stick to milk!
The only other thing your newborn needs: vitamin D supplement
Health Canada recommends that all breastfed infant receive a supplement of vitamin D. We also suggest that formula fed baby receive one too, because although formula contains vitamin D, baby is likely not going to drink enough to meet his/her requirements.
So, all babies should received a daily supplement of vitamin D. Starting at birth, give a daily dose of 400 IU per day of vitamin D to your baby. You can find liquid vitamin D supplement for babies, where 1 drop represent the daily dose to administer. If you are vegetarian or vegan, more and more options are available on the market.
Beside milk, baby needs a daily supplement of vitamin D.
Your breastfed baby’s nutrition depends on your own nutrition
What goes in your breast milk depends on your own dietary choices.
It is important to not forget yourself, even if you are in awww with baby!
Having ready to eat, frozen, or quick to assemble meals can be life saving.
Keep sustaining snacks and a water bottle in your nursing corner.
Alcohol, some herbal teas and medications can be dangerous for baby as it passes through your breast milk.
Mom too needs to be well fed in early postpartum!
My newborn baby has colic – can it be my breast milk?
Maybe (and that is also true for formula). Colic can be the results of a food allergy, which might requires you to modify your own diet if you wish to pursue breastfeeding, or a change in formula to avoid the allergen in cause.
Some evidence points towards the following food triggers:
dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, cruciferous vegetables, cow’s milk, onion, and chocolate
Eliminate foods one at a time to determine its association with your baby’s symptoms. If you don’t see an improvement, there is no reason to eliminate that food from your diet. A registered dietitian can guide you so you don’t exclude more food than required.
Probiotics might also be indicated in babies with colic. Some evidence support the strain L. reuteri DSM 17938 to alleviate symptoms of colic in infants.
A change in the mom’s diet or a change in formula might be helping infants with colic
Roll CL, Cheater F. Expectant parents’ views of factors influencing infant feeding decisions in the antenatal period: a systematic review. International journal of nursing studies. 2016 Aug 1;60:145-55.
Swerts M, Westhof E, Bogaerts A, Lemiengre J. Supporting breast-feeding women from the perspective of the midwife: a systematic review of the literature. Midwifery. 2016 Jun 1;37:32-40.
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