My Top 8 Tips for Feeding Newborns

feeding newborns


I've found there aren't a lot of videos on the internet about feeding newborns and for me that was the hardest bit.  They all talk about latching on which is really important, but if it's not working how do you fix it? Or what about if your newborn is too tired to breastfeed?

There are a few easy steps to make feeding newborns as easy as possible. It is also good to know a few common mistakes so you can avoid them, avoiding breastfeeding problems from developing.

If you are comfortable using breast crawl this will help you get a good start to breastfeeding. Some mothers don't want to use this technique though or want other tips to help make feeding newborns easier.

Positioning Your Newborn

Be Patient - Wait for the Breastfeeding Cues

Don't Be Afraid to Re-Latch Your Baby If Breastfeeding Hurts

Be Aware That Your Baby May Want to Breastfeed Frequently

Some Newborns Take a Very Long Time to Feed

You Will Feel Tired, and That is Normal

Look After Your Breasts - Buy a Good Bra

Look After Your Breasts - Have Good Posture


Positioning Your Newborn

Place your baby so their nose is level with your nipple. This means that they will have to tilt their head back to get their mouth to the nipple and this means they will open their mouth wide. Check out this newborn positioning video for some tips.

A common breastfeeding problem from poor positioning is nipple soreness . This happens when the baby doesn't take the nipple well in their mouth. Many of the mothers I see in practice have two very different breasts and using one of 5 different breastfeeding positions might make it easier from side to side.

Be Patient - Wait for the Breastfeeding Cues 

It is very important to allow your newborn to show breastfeeding cues before trying to attach them. This is usually a licking of their lips and opening their mouths and bobbing their head about.

If you wait for this to occur your baby will use their reflexes properly to poke out their tongue far enough and open their mouth wide enough to breastfeed well, helping you attach properly. The breast crawl video shows this really well.

I tried to get this happening with my little guy initially but he was too tired after a long labour to get it right.  I had no idea until later that I could have tried breast crawl again until he was about 12 weeks old!  Well worth knowing so that you can get them opening their mouth wider!

Waiting for your newborn to open their mouth wide can be a bit frustrating but worth waiting for. If you are using baby led latch they will attach themselves, but if you are using the cradle hold or another breastfeeding position instead you need to be quick to attach your baby before they close their mouth again. this is shown really well in the latching on videos

Don't Be Afraid to Re-Latch Your Baby If Breastfeeding Hurts

I think so much damage to breastfeeding nipples is from mothers just putting up with a poor latch and not trying to fix it!

It seems to happen more at night when you're too tired to really be bothered taking them off and trying again (or you're trying to be as quiet as possible and not make your baby cry while they reattach).

Something to remember though is that feeding newborns is a constant learning journey for both of you - if you let your newborn do the wrong latch too much they will practice this bad latch and it will be harder to stop it happening in the longer term - get it right early on!

Use your finger to break their suction by inserting it in the corner of their mouth, and try latching them on again

If you don't think you are getting it any better it's well worth speaking to a lactation consultant (or a few if the first one doesn't help you!).  Your baby might have a tongue or lip tie, or perhaps your breast is too big and your baby too small and you will need to be patient til they get a bit older/bigger.

Be Aware That Your Baby May Want to Breastfeed Frequently

Many new mothers get quite anxious about forming a breastfeeding schedule for feeding newborns. This is not always the easiest thing to do. Some newborns want to breastfeed every hour, some every two hours and some need to be woken to feed. The less you are worried about a pre-conceived idea of what will happen, the more likely you are to notice and adequately respond to their hunger.

I've always thought that it's important to remember that every adult is different so why wouldn't every newborn be?  For starters your milk supply and the amount of fore and hind milk will be different to other breastfeeding mothers.

The other thing that an older nurse told me was that breastfeeding more frequently means that your newborn won't be feeding for such a long time - a great thing if your nipples are sore!  Imagine having a sore nipple being hurt for 30-40 minutes as opposed to 10?!

Some newborns fall asleep at the breast before finishing a feed and then wake hungry again very shortly afterwards. Breast compressions really help to make sure your baby gets a full feed in the shortest amount of time.

If you are finding that your baby wants to breastfeed all the time and is never happy unless feeding you may find you have a problem with low milk supply or your baby has reflux or colic. These are all problems which can be remedied, so ask for help from your doctor or lactation consultant. 

Some Newborns Take a Very Long Time to Feed 

I've found that often babies who take a really long time to feed and then are hungry again very shortly afterwards are either not actually getting much milk or are using breastfeeding as comfort rather than for food (which is fine as long as you're happy to do that).

If your baby seems to be falling asleep at the breast and not breastfeeding efficiently it is worth knowing how to use breast compressions to help increase the amount of milk your baby gets early in the feed. Check out the latching on page to see the good and bad latch so you can tell what's happening.  Also see some of the videos further down the page so you can tell whether your baby is drinking or just comfort sucking - that means you won't be feeding any longer than you need to!

You Will Feel Tired, and That is Normal

Most women experience a small form of this tiredness during their first trimester, and really, what a way to prepare for feeding newborns at night. During this time it is important to remember that your body, throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, is in a totally different physiological state - respect that.

Some things that I didn't realise would affect my energy levels before starting breastfeeding were my iron levels.  If they've been low during your pregnancy or if you lost a lot of blood during the delivery it might be worth getting them checked and taking a good quality supplement (the liquid ones are easiest to absorb and don't make you constipated either).

Making milk is very energy intensive. When you think about it you are still providing all the nourishment for your baby's growth as well as looking after your own body's healing. This takes a lot of energy. A good breastfeeding diet will help your energy levels while also being a nutritious meal for your baby and you.

Do not be ashamed of needing some time off, or having a snooze in the afternoon, these are perfectly normal and necessary parts of a day for a mother and anyone who "doesn't need" them is not listening to their body. This is also a good time to get used to asking for help. Many women these days are very independent and capable and find it difficult to ask for help at all, so now is a good time to start practicing. 

Look After Your Breasts - Buy a Good Bra

Another piece of advice during this early period of time is look after your breasts from early on. This is important during pregnancy and breastfeeding as the breasts change shape significantly over this time.

If you have previously been fitted poorly for bras or don't look after your breasts during this early period of growth you can have scar tissue accumulation in the breast. This is not a good thing for feeding newborns as this area will be less likely to drain well during a feed and so be more vulnerable to clogged milk ducts and mastitis.

Get bras that fit, and keep updating them as you need to so that while you're feeding newborns, you can do all you can to avoid potential mastitis causing factors. 

Look After Your Breasts - Have Good Posture

One final thing to consider from early on - your posture is extremely important. Both for the positioning of your baby while you're pregnant to make you birthing experience as comfortable as possible, but also to get those postural muscles strong before you have to go carrying around a little bundle of joy all the time!

Good posture also contributes to better milk supply. It is your choice, get onto it as soon as possible, because realistically, it takes quite some time to build muscle strength, and feeding newborns requires a big increase in the strength of muscles in your back as well as your arms! 





Positioning Your Newborn

Be Patient - Wait for the Breastfeeding Cues

Don't Be Afraid to Re-Latch Your Baby If Breastfeeding Hurts

Be Aware That Your Baby May Want to Breastfeed Frequently

Some Newborns Take a Very Long Time to Feed

You Will Feel Tired, and That is Normal

Look After Your Breasts - Buy a Good Bra

Look After Your Breasts - Have Good Posture


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