You’ve just become a mom. As much as how exciting that is, it can still be a little scary. Despite all the research you’ve done—online and otherwise—a lot of things still bother you. You can’t help but be apprehensive with most of your actions. What if you’re not doing it right? What if it will have a lasting effect on your baby? What if you make a mistake and there’s no way you can’t make it right anymore?
Before you go further down the spiral of doubt and insecurity, breathe in first. What you have to learn about being a mom is you’ll make mistakes. A lot of them. This is what makes it the most difficult job in the world; it doesn’t have an exact guide and yet, the world expects you to do it perfectly.
Understand that you will stumble along the way. But that doesn’t mean you’re failing at it. As long as you are doing everything you can, you’re already the best mom for that kid.
Now, before we get all teary-eyed let’s get into business.
Among the aspects of being a new mom is providing breastmilk for your baby. Health professionals and organisations can’t stress enough the importance of expressing breastmilk, both to you and your newborn.
Stronger immune system, lower risk of contracting diseases, and obesity prevention are just a few of the health benefits you’re gracing your child with your breastmilk. It’s also kind of hitting two birds with one stone because you’re also less likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer if you breastfeed. And you were worrying about your figure after pregnancy, right? Celebrate now because it will also help you lose weight—in a healthy way—as breastfeeding helps you burn up to 500 calories per day.
How much of it does your baby need?
This is one of the questions that new moms like you need answers to. This is important given that you need to ensure they are getting enough.
Notice in our infographic below that the amount of breastmilk a baby needs increases dramatically in the course of just 5 days. On day 1, your baby only needs up to 30ml of breastmilk given that their stomach is just as small as a cherry. By day 3, it will have grown into the size of a walnut, making them hungry for more milk. By day 5, picture an apricot because that’s how big your baby’s stomach already is and that’s when they can consume from 360ml to 540ml of expressed breast milk.
On the other hand, from day 6, your baby will start to consume regular amounts of EBM per day up until the next 6 months. To know how much your baby needs at these stages, use these formulas:
The World Health Organization released the chart above showing the optimal infant growth. The data shows the average weight of healthy infants from the US and 5 other countries.
From 7 months to 18 months, your baby will consume 120 to 200 ml of breast milk per feed. However, this time period will be divided into 3 stages and each will vary according to how often you feed them per day.
Underfeeding / Overfeeding Your Baby
Of course, these are just guides on the average milk intake of an infant. It’s ultimately a case to case basis. So if you notice that your child is consuming milk slightly lower or greater than the amounts indicated above, don’t panic yet.
The most effective way to know if your baby is getting enough is by looking at their pee or poo. Healthy, breastfed babies will produce mustard-, brown-, or even green-colored poop. Their smell is also distinct as it tends to be sweet.
Most babies fall asleep while they’re feeding. So it’s best to gently wake them up by stretching their limbs. When you notice they’re done, make sure that you allow them to burp.
In the subject of overfeeding the baby, there are different claims to it, both from experts and experienced moms. There are those who say it’s not possible to overfeed a baby but there are also those who say they can be overfed with breast milk too.
Each side has a valid point. Babies feed naturally at their own cues. When they’re hungry, you’ll know and when they’re full, they’ll simply stop feeding. That’s what happens most of the time.
However, there are also cases wherein the opposite can happen. It is most likely that your baby is overfed if he or she is having an upset stomach all the time or the poop is more watery than usual. Another sign is if the baby is spitting up too much. Although this is normal, high amounts of gastroesophageal reflux (its fancy medical term) should alarm you.
5 Ways to Increase your Breastmilk
A lot of people may have told you that breastfeeding is just a matter of supply and demand. If the baby needs more, your breasts correspond. However, there are cases where they need a little help. To increase your breastmilk you should/can:
- Massage your breasts – before feeding, take time to massage them to stimulate milk production.
- Pump after your baby’s done – the stimulation provided by your baby’s latch will help you pump more milk which you can give your baby later on.
- Avoid stress
- Drink enough fluids
- Take supplements – this should be done as a last resort and only with the advice of your
Breastfeeding may or may not come easy for you. But take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in this journey. Should you need more questions about providing the best care of your baby, feel free to leave a comment.