By Sadia Sahabi, MD | Obstetrics & Gynecology
If you’re a first-time mom, you probably have questions about breastfeeding. How often should I breastfeed my baby? How can I tell if my baby is hungry? CareMount Medical OB/GYN, Dr. Sadia Sahabi, provides answers to several common questions asked by new moms.
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of a baby’s life. Breastfeeding should continue up to the baby’s first birthday as new foods are introduced. You can keep breastfeeding after the baby’s first birthday for as long as you and your baby would like.
It should be noted, if you are pregnant and currently breastfeeding, suckling can stimulate uterine contractions. Therefore, pregnant women at high risk of preterm delivery should avoid breastfeeding during pregnancy. It’s important for expectant mothers to increase their fluid and caloric intake in order to provide enough nutrition for their baby as well as an older child that is still breastfeeding.
When babies are hungry, they look alert, bend their arms, close their fists, and bring their fingers to their mouths. Offer your baby your breast when he or she first starts bringing fingers to his or her mouth. Crying is a late sign of hunger, and an unhappy baby will find it harder to latch. When full, babies relax their arms and legs and close their eyes.
Let your baby set his or her own schedule. During the first weeks of life, most babies feed at least 8–12 times in 24 hours, or at least every 2–3 hours (timed from the start time of one feeding to the start time of the next feeding.
For more breastfeeding FAQs and pregnancy-related information, download or print CareMount Medical’s Pregnancy Welcome Kit, “From Pre-Conception to Motherhood.”