Basics of Breastfeeding

It’s always good to self-educate yourself on pregnancy-related topics so you have an idea of what to expect. One important topic to prepare yourself for is breastfeeding.

Here are some of the basic things you need to know about breastfeeding! 

How much milk does my baby need?

If you’re feeding directly from your breast, it might be a tad bit difficult to quantify a specified amount of milk. In this case, it helps to measure the number of times you’re feeding your baby. On average, it usually takes about 8-10 feedings in 24 hours to fill up your baby. 

If you’re pumping breast milk, then it helps to know that boys usually drink up to 800-900 ml in a day whereas girls drink 700-800 ml per day. 

How is breast milk made?

Breastmilk is made during a process called lactation that begins while you’re pregnant. Milk is made in mammary glands that are inside your breast tissue. 

When you’re pregnant, a rise in hormones estrogen and progesterone causes an increase in the number and size of your milk ducts, this stimulates mammary glands to prepare for milk production.

While you’re pregnant, you start producing colostrum which is a highly nutritious form of breastmilk that you need to give to your baby as soon as they’re born.

Once you deliver, the hormone prolactin takes over and causes an intensification of milk production. Whenever your baby cries, your brain releases oxytocin which stimulates your breasts to release milk. 

When your baby latches onto the nipple, milk flows from the nipple. This process continues for as long as you continue to breastfeed.

Types of breastmilk

There are usually two types of breast milk; foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk is secreted during the start of the feeding and is usually high in water content. Whereas hindmilk is secreted towards the end of a feeding session and is high in fat and other nutrients.

Another type of breast milk is colostrum. This is secreted during the first few hours after birth. This milk is high in nutrients and antibodies that are essential for your baby. 

What to expect from the first few feedings

It may take a while for you to get the latch and position right. Until you figure it out, your first few feedings might be a little uncomfortable and painful. However, it gets better once your baby is latching properly.

The duration and frequency of feeding might change after every few days until your baby establishes a pattern. You might be feeding for small durations multiple times initially, gradually getting to lesser frequent, longer feeding sessions.

If you have any other questions regarding the basics of breastfeeding or if you’re having challenges, consulting a lactation expert will help! At Charleston Birth Place we have a lactation lounge and an IBCLC certified lactation consultant available for all your breastfeeding needs! Give us a call if you are having breastfeeding issues at 843-818-1123