One of the biggest struggles moms face in the first month of life, is feeling like they are or aren't producing enough breast milk.
Often times, moms are producing enough, however, because they can't see the amounts they are feeding their baby, it can be tricky to have physical evidence that their baby is getting enough. Breastfed babies tend to feed more frequently than formula-fed babies, which makes moms feel as though their babies are still hungry.
Breastfeeding babies normally eat more frequently than formula-fed babies because they are able to control what they are taking in.
Infant formula can also be filling in comparison, but not necessarily in a better way. Babies are meant to feed more frequently because their stomachs are so small. In this way, breastfeeding preserves their ability to regulate and read feeding signals because they (their baby) is in charge.
During this first month, your milk will change quite a bit---both throughout the month and even during the day!
Your milk will first come out as what is called colostrum, which is very nutrient dense (due to decreased water).
Because your baby needs a ton of energy but their stomach is so small, it may seem like you only have a few drops of colostrum, but they do the job! After a few days, your milk will thin out and look more like 'milk'.
As your baby gets older, you will see a higher volume of milk and it will become even thinner, and that is completely normal!
Throughout the day, your milk changes.
In the morning, breastmilk has higher amounts of fat in order to add additional calories to replenish stores since babies go longer periods of time without eating.
Throughout the day, the first bit of milk that a baby drinks in a feed tends to be thinner to quench their thirst.
Babies going through a cluster feed or experiencing a growth spurt will feed more frequently. Their mama's milk-ducts will act accordingly and create more calorie-dense milk (higher fat, protein, nutrients, etc) to compensate. Pretty cool right?
So what is a cluster feeding?
Cluster feedings typically occur when your baby is going through a growth spurt. This is to increase your supply, specifically within the first couple of weeks once your mature milk comes in to help build your supply and to help your baby grow.
The definition of a cluster feed is when your baby feeds multiple times within a few hours. It may seem like they are SUPER hungry or that they are not getting enough milk. Often times, women take this as a sign that they are not producing enough milk, when in reality--they ARE!
If you relate to this and want to learn more about how to make sure your baby is getting enough, check out these blog posts:
Cluster feedings occur within the first couple of weeks but then also during different periods throughout the first year of life. Every baby is different and should not be held strictly to a time. However, it is important that you are aware of this cluster feeding 'norm'!
Many moms hit the 6-week mark and feel like a failure because it seems like they aren't producing enough breast milk or their baby is never satisfied. However, this couldn't be further from the truth! Their baby is really going through a time of intense growth.
A growth spurt typically lasts about 2-3 days.
Other signs of a baby's growth spurts include increased 'fussiness' and more frequent 'wake-ups.' Many moms feel overwhelmed when this occurs, but by reading this you will already be one step ahead!
If your baby shows signs of a growth spurt, make sure you follow these steps:
Make sure to stay hydrated and nourished. While this may not affect your milk supply directly, it certainly will affect YOUR energy levels and stamina which is just as important.
Try to take some time for yourself, you will most likely be sitting in a spot for quite a bit of time, so make yourself comfortable and do some things you enjoy. Catch up on some TV, and bond with your baby!
Relax! Unfortunately, there is little more you can do during this time. And as stir crazy as you may feel, just know that you will get everything else done with time, but you won't have these moments with your baby forever.
Unfortunately, there is little more you can do during this time. And as stir crazy as you may feel, just know that you will get everything else done with time, but you won't have these moments with your baby forever.
The last thing we want is for you to feel overwhelmed or like a failure. We want to give you this information so you are prepared and ready, as much as you can be, for when these events occur for you and your baby.
Lastly, we always like to state that if formula supplementation is necessary, then do it! There is nothing wrong with it. You are absolutely enough for your baby and that includes when you supplement.
It is not the end of the world if you feel as though you are struggling with breastfeeding and want some additional help to reach your goals, Mamas Maternal Health is here for you!
Follow up questions:
Are you feeling as though breastfeeding is a barrier that you don't know how you will overcome?
What are some things that you are struggling within the realm of breastfeeding?
Send your answers to email@example.com!
Thanks for reading and as always...
Your health today is a LIFETIME of health for you AND your baby.
Until next time!
Coaches Cassie and Mikayla
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