Feeding your baby in the early days: what you need to know… (Part 2)

Q1. How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

A:

  • The more your baby feeds, the more she pees and poos.
  • Your baby passes dark green, sticky stools (meconium) after birth. Then the stool will gradually become soft yellowish or greenish in the first few days.
  • You will know whether your baby is getting enough milk by checking the wet diapers and bowel motions.
  • It is normal for your baby to lose some weight due to water loss in the first few days after birth. She will steadily regain weight afterwards.

(Please read Chapter 2 of Love, Starts from Breastfeeding… for more details.)

Q2. How do I know my baby is hungry?

A:

  • It is important to let your baby take the lead when feeding. So you have to know the early cues when she is hungry.
  • Your baby’s early hunger cues include opening the mouth, putting her hands into her  mouth or making sucking sounds.
  • Crying or fussing is a relatively late hunger cue. It is more difficult for a crying baby to attach to the breast properly, possibly preventing effective suckling.

(Please read Chapter 2 of Love, Starts from Breastfeeding…for details.)

Q3: The more my baby suckles on the breast, the more milk I produce.

A: True

  • After your milk has “come-in”, your breasts will gradually produce the appropriate amount of milk according to your baby’s needs.
  • When your baby suckles, your body will make milk-producing hormones.
  • However, if the breastmilk cannot be removed effectively, your breasts will produce a substance that stops milk production decreasing the milk supply.
  • Frequent and effective suckling is the best way to help your breasts produce enough milk.   

(Please read Chapters 1 & 2 of Love, Starts from Breastfeeding… for details.)

Q4. In the first few weeks, my baby needs to be fed frequently. I have to breastfeed at least 8 to 12 times a day.

A: True

  • In the first few weeks, the stomach of your newborn baby is small. Therefore, frequent feedings are needed.
  • A newborn baby tends to be sleepy and may not wake up to feed. Even so, you need to feed your baby at least 3 to 4 times on the first day.
  • From the second day onwards, your baby becomes more alert and needs more frequent feedings, about 8 to 12 times a day.
  • Your body makes more milk-producing hormones at night.  Breastfeeding your baby during the night helps to boost milk production

(Please read Chapter 2 of Love, Starts from Breastfeeding...for details.)

Q5. Proper positioning and attachment are the keys to successful breastfeeding.

A: True

  • The breastfeeding position and helping your baby get a good attachment at your breast are the keys to successful breastfeeding. Both you and your baby need to learn to breastfeed especially in the first few days after birth. Do not hesitate to seek advice on breastfeeding from healthcare professionals.
  • The proper breastfeeding position:
    You and your baby’s body are well-supported, so that both of you feel comfortable during frequent breastfeeding.
  • This allows you to bring your baby to your breast more easily, and helps him attach properly to the breast.
  • With a good attachment, your baby can stimulate your breasts to produce more milk.

(Please read Chapter 3 of Love, Starts from Breastfeeding... for details.)

Q6. I can express milk when temporarily separated from my baby, or when my breasts are engorged.

A: True

  • If you cannot directly breastfeed your baby (for example, when the baby is sick or needs hospitalisation, or when you go back to work), you can express and store your breastmilk.
    • This ensures enough stimulation to the breasts and keeps up your milk supply to continue breastfeeding.
  • When your breasts are engorged and you cannot breastfeed your baby immediately, you can express some milk to relieve discomfort and reduce the risk of blocked ducts.

(Please read Chapter 5 of Love, Starts from Breastfeeding... for details.)

Q7. It is better to give my baby expressed breastmilk in a bottle than direct breastfeeding, as I then know how much he takes.

A: Not true

  • A healthy, full-term baby shows the urge to suckle when hungry and appears satisfied when full. Feeding your baby according to his need is far more pertinent than knowing how much is taken. Actually, as long as there are enough wet nappies, he is getting enough milk.
  • Advantages of direct breastfeeding:
    • Your baby takes the lead in feeding to match his needs.
    • Having close skin-to-skin contact helps your baby feel warm and secure. This also helps promote parent-child bonding.
    • Direct breastfeeding facilitates your baby’s facial, oral muscles and jawbone development, as well as reduces the risk of middle ear infections.
  • Points to note before feeding your baby with a bottle:
    • The amount of milk may not suit your baby’s actual need if the caregiver takes the lead in feeding.
    • You may hurt your breasts or nipples, or strain your hand muscles if you use inappropriate methods to express or pump your breastmilk.

(Please read Chapters 1, 4 and 5 of Love, Starts from Breastfeeding... for details.)

Q8. Seek help immediately if you have any problems while feeding your baby.

A: True

  • Family members can offer support by taking care of the newborn baby. This can make your life less hectic and breastfeeding will be more enjoyable.
  • Learn more about infant feeding while expecting your baby.  Involve and discuss with your partner and family your feeding decisions!
    •  Your partner, your baby’s grandparents and the “pei yue.”
  • If you decide to breastfeed, remember to discuss with::
    • Your obstetric doctor and midwife at the birthing hospital: Inform them that your plan to breastfeed as soon as possible after giving birth.
    • Your supervisor in the workplace: discuss breastfeeding arrangements when returning to work.
  • Seek help immediately if you have any problems feeding your baby.

(Please read Chapter 3 of Love, Starts from Breastfeeding... for details.)

We have included reference materials on infant feeding in the antenatal welcome package:

Family Health Service

Website: www.fhs.gov.hk
24-hour information hotline:2112 9900

(Published 03/2018)