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Getting On a Breastfeeding Schedule

When to breastfeed your baby, how long, what to do about nighttime feedings, and more.

Is Breastfeeding Enough? continued...

During the first seven days of life, Hanna says the number of dirty diapers should match the number of days since birth. So, when your baby is three days old, he or she should be dirtying three diapers. After seven days, however, your baby should require far more changes in a 24-hour period. "After the first week, four to 10 wet diapers daily is a good sign," Hanna tells WebMD.

Also note: If you are using disposable diapers that pull wetness deep inside the lining, it may be hard to tell if your baby is wetting the correct amount. When this is the case, use the weight of the diaper as a guide. If it "feels" heavier than a clean, unused diaper, then chances are your baby is wetting the correct amount, says Huotari.

In addition to wetting, your baby should also be having frequent mustard-color stools -- or dry dark stools that gradually lighten in color by the fifth day. What's normal to expect here?

"Anywhere from one to as many as five poop diapers a day is normal and essential," says Hanna.

Although dehydration is rare in babies, she cautions that overly dry, dark, or hard stools after the fifth day -- or a lack of any stool -- can be a sign of trouble. Mention these problems to your pediatrician as soon as possible.

"The one thing you don't want to do is give your baby water, even if you think they may be dehydrated," warns Huotari. Instead, she says, treat your baby to more frequent or longer breastfeeding sessions. The American Academy of Pediatrics adds that all breastfed infants need vitamin D drops daily to supplement the small amount in mother's milk. Ask your pediatrician about the drops, and how much to give your baby.

In addition, don't be alarmed if your baby seems be feeling lighter in weight during the first week of feeding. Nearly all newborns initially lose up to 10% of their birth weight almost immediately. If feeding progresses at a normal pace, your baby should begin regainingthat weight around five days after birth, at the rate of about an ounce a day. Within two weeks, most babies are fully caught up to what they weighed at birth.

"You also must realize that breastfed babies have more lean muscle mass and less body fat -- so you might not necessarily see that chubby, cherub look that most people associate with a well-fed baby," says Hanna.

Be sure to schedule a checkup with your baby's doctor at three to five days of age and again at two to three weeks of age to make sure proper feeding and weight gain are maintained.

Finally, look to your own body for yet another sign that your baby is getting enough to eat. If your breasts feel soft to the touch after feeding, they are probably drained of milk, a good sign that your baby is well fed.

As for the length of time for each breastfeeding, Huotari says a session should last about a half hour, with baby at your breast suckling for about 15 to 20 minutes. As your baby's tummy begins to get full, you may notice your baby is pausing longer between swallows. This is a sign that feeding is winding down and your baby is satisfied.
However, if your baby stops swallowing or suckling after just 10 minutes, this could be a sign baby is not getting enough to eat, Huotari says. If this is the case, try to reposition your breast to make suckling easier. Make certain you are not blocking your baby's nose, which can make it more difficult for baby to feed.

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