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Infant feeding

how to time feeds? BF

22 replies

claireL1991 · 11/04/2016 11:53

Hi all!

My little girl is 6 days old and I feel as though breast feeding is going well.
Being a 9lbs 8 baby she does have the occasional top up of formula milk after being breast fed but this will only be until my milk comes in properly.

Questions are.

  1. How long does it take until your milk is properly there? I have milk and am expressing as well but should I expect more?

2. How long is the average feed?

3. Are they meant to suckle constantly? She tends to attach, suck a bit then pull off and have a look around and then attach again.

4. When do you start timing the feeds? She's meant to go 4 hours between feeds but do you time them from when she first attaches or when she's finally finished? She sometimes takes over an hour before she's finally finished.

Thanks in advance x
OP posts:
SweepTheHalls · 11/04/2016 12:00

Only time feeds on terms of being aware that she doesn't go too long between feeds Smile. At this age, I wouldn't go more than 3 hours as their tummies very small, and you really don't need to top up with formula unless you want to move onto bottles (which is fine!) as you will be hindering your supply getting established by regularly topping up at this stage.

I really wouldn't worry about expressing at this stage age either, just respond to your baby whenever she asks for milk and your milk will come in just fine. At that age feeds could seem like they took forever, but this is just to help your body make the right amount of milk, before you know it it will only take 10 minutes for a full feed! Congratulations on your daughter Flowers

SweepTheHalls · 11/04/2016 12:01

Oh, and 4 hours between feeds isn't usual and till 4 or 5 months!

SpeakNoWords · 11/04/2016 12:04

I was about to say exactly what SweepTheHalls has just said, and I would echo and agree with it all.

If you need to time the gaps between feeds (generally you shouldn't need to), it should be from the start of one feed to the start of the next.

SnuffleGruntSnorter · 11/04/2016 12:05

I agree with sweep, at six days old your little one might feel like they're feeding constantly and it's easy to worry they're not getting enough - just think of it like her telling your body how much milk to make and your body will respond. Don't top up unless you want to continue topping up or switch to formula, you'll never make more than your baby has had chance to 'order' by suckling an empty breast. Of course it's fine if you do wish to continue topping up or switch.

She'll get more efficient at feeding as she grows, so just accept kind of being pinned to the spot for now - it gets easier. A slog inn you can feed in might help if you're struggling with all the suckling

SnuffleGruntSnorter · 11/04/2016 12:06

Sling! Not slog inn!

MunchyMunchkin · 11/04/2016 12:09

No need to top up just because she's a bigger baby. At that age babies automatically suck when a teat is placed in the mouth even after a full feed. This doesn't mean she needs the formula as well.
Just feed on demand, my 9lb 3oz daughter fed every 1-2hrs at that age start to start (and 2hrly until 21 weeks!)
Sit on the sofa with snacks and a box set and be lazy. You'll never get another opportunity like it!

JasperDamerel · 11/04/2016 12:20

Newborns tend to spend most of their awake time feeding, and like the previous poster said, this isn't a period when you should be restricting feeds, so timing is only really needed if you have a sleepy baby who needs to be woken up for feeds. 8-12 proper feeding sessions over 24 hours would be the expected number of feeds at that age, but they are unlikely to be spread out evenly.

For the first six or so, your body is learning how much milk to make, so feeding on demand is generally a good way for your boobs and your baby's hunger to get in synch.

There will probably be days where the baby does nothing but feed, and will cry every time you unlatch him to change his nappy etc, and you may feel as though you have no more milk to give. This is absolutely normal and not a sign that there is anything wrong.

Are there concerns about the baby's growth or general health? I'm asking this because topping up breastmilk with formula or expressed milk is generally only helpful if you having breastfeeding problems which cause the baby not to be able to get enough milk, or if the baby has health problems which mean he needs to have lots of calories quickly. Formula top-ups in the first few weeks as a regular thing can lead to problems with breastfeeding further down the line, as your boobs don't get the message that your baby is hungry and they to make milk.

After around 6 weeks, feeding tends to settle down into a more predictable pattern and that is when some people start introducing a more regular schedule to the baby's day.

BaronessBomburst · 11/04/2016 12:20

Feed on demand, and don't time in between feeds. When do you go four hours without so much as a biscuit or a cup of tea?
My biggest 'regret' is that I listened to the HV and hadn't read enough on MN. DS spent a lot of time crying in the first couple of weeks because I hadn't heard about cluster feeding and thought I had to follow the four hour rule and that the problem was something other than wanting a feed. I still feel a bit guilty. Sad

BaronessBomburst · 11/04/2016 12:23

He's six btw, and seems to have gotten over it.
I started offering the breast whenever he cried as it just felt right and things settled down straight away.

FoxesSitOnBoxes · 11/04/2016 12:26

Sounds like you're doing great! You don't need to top up a big baby- your milk will adjust. Relax and just feed feed feed at the moment to get that supply going

TeaBelle · 11/04/2016 12:28

I echo what others have said - unless you're worried that she's not gaining weight or weeing then just feed in demand and let her go with the flow

FoxesSitOnBoxes · 11/04/2016 12:30

Yup - watch for those clues that they might be hungry like rooting (and basically just being awake at this stage) and offer a feed. I used to write it all down with PFB but didn't with DS and sometimes would forget which side I was supposed to be feeding from but we both got through it a whole lot more chilled out than when I was timing things.

Nicknamegrief · 11/04/2016 12:39


You shouldn't need to worry about topping up with milk. Just help her re latch on and swap sides. A lot of babies will still take a top up even after a full breast feed. The more she feeds from you, the more milk you will make.

Your baby has a tiny stomach, they need to feed frequently.

This is a very good article and is another fabulous resource for more is MN (of course).

claireL1991 · 11/04/2016 12:40

Thanks guys what I'm thinking. Surely if she was hungry she would let me know? I was told 4 hourly feeds because she doesn't wake up for them. I'm having to force her awake most of the time and then have a game getting her to feed.
She's just woken up crying now and is having a feed but wouldn't be due until 2 if I was going by this 4 hour rule. And this time she's properly latched on and isn't looking around.
I think she's not eating when I wake her because she purely isn't hungry.
I'm going to stop timing and let her tell me when she wants it unless it's been hours & hours.

OP posts:
NotSpartacus · 11/04/2016 12:45

I think at that stage I'd pop a boob in her mouth every time she cries ( unless it is getting sore, in which case I might try to stretch the gaps a little). In time you'll differentiate between different types of cry and feeds will get spaced out.

Nicknamegrief · 11/04/2016 12:47

Sometimes sleepy babies can be difficult to wake and feed properly.
Kellymom gives these tips which I would echo,
I had one very sleepy baby and the advice was really useful. A feed felt like it took forever for the first few weeks.
Waiting for four hours in between feeds is too long in my opinion at this age. There are signs that they can do in their sleep that can also indicate they are ready for a feed such as rooting.
Hang on in there and if you can visiting a local breast feeding support group is well worth it not just for any advice/discussion but also to meet other mums and escape the house (perks I always appreciated).

StepfauxWife · 11/04/2016 12:59

I had a sleepy baby, I got some good advice on here (sorry, on phone so can't link).

Has your baby been weighed again after birth? Has she lost much of her birth weight?

The advice from my midwives was that as long as baby is gaining weight well and having plenty of wet and dirty nappies, I should leave her to sleep. We're now almost 3 weeks in and DD is up every two hours!

As an aside, I've got the Baby Feed app which is helping me record feeds (and remember what boob to feed from!). I'd recommend it if you've not got something like that already.

Congratulations on your new baby!

StepfauxWife · 11/04/2016 13:05
SweepTheHalls · 11/04/2016 18:03

If she is too sleepy for a feed after 3 hours, strip her offGrin it really works!!

Junosmum · 11/04/2016 20:09

I echo what others have said. You are doing fab.

Stop the formula top ups unless you want to switch. Baby will start cluster feeding soon- literally feeding for hours at a time- totally normal and nothing to worry about. Your milk will catch up.

Baby shouldn't have more than 3 hours between feeds at this age, but as others have said, if they move stick your Boob in their mouth!

claireL1991 · 13/04/2016 11:16

Thanks everyone.

If I'm to stop the top ups what do I do when she's drained me and is then screaming the house down for more?

We usually breast feed for about an hour at a time and then she cries and won't latch on again which is when she has the top up. Literally 30mls max, sometimes it's not even that much.
She gets so frustrated about it and once the crying starts she looses interest in the boob.

Thanks xx

OP posts:
tiktok · 13/04/2016 13:29

claire, hope you can get good real life help soon....a talkboard can only do so much :)

Perhaps ask the midwife to visit again specifically to support your feeding. It would be good to have her weighed, too - you don't say if she has been weighed.

Call one of the bf helplines.

Topping up can be bad news when establishing breastfeeding, and scheduling feeds is not good either. In both cases, it stops your production from meeting your baby's needs - so it's good you are addressing this.

When she screams after an hour, it does not mean she has 'drained' may mean she just wants a break and a cuddle and some soothing. Do this, for a little while, and then try her again. Babies tend not to latch well onto the breast when screaming, but because the bottle teat can be placed in the mouth more directly, it can seem they wanted the top up.

At 8 days, a baby might well have varying times at the breast, and be feeding very frequently. It's helpful to have them close so you can respond to early feeding cues.

I do think it will help to have a good conversation in real life though.

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