Great advice from Geraldine at Let’s Breastfeed:
Wouldn’t it be great if we could have our meals perfectly prepared to these specifications, taking into account calorie requirements and adjustments to warmer or cooler climates to ensure we remain hydrated?
Well, without much input from you, your body gets to work and produces meals to these specifications and higher at each breast feed.
Many new mums I speak to are concerned that they are not producing the right kind of breast milk to meet their baby’s needs. This is very unlikely and often all that is needed is a slight tweak here or there, to their feeding pattern.
I am surprised when these concerns arise even when babies are gaining weight well and piling on weight each week. The concern then becomes one of overfeeding. So, the question I pose is whether breastfed babies can be overfed and whether it is necessary to control their milk intake in order to prevent them from becoming too podgy?
It is well documented that breast milk is packed with benefits and one of the benefits of breastfeeding, is that your baby is able to decide when she has had enough milk. You may have been told that over-feeding a breastfeeding baby is pretty difficult, however it is possible, especially when mums have a fast flowing milk or quite a lot of it. Usually babies learn to cope with a fast flow or a high volume of milk, so it is not a problem.
Whilst not knowing how much milk your baby has actually had at one feed may leave you feeling a little uncertain when she pulls away from the breast after a very short feed, but evidence in the form of wet and dirty nappies and weight gain, will quickly reassure you that she knows what she needs and she will ensure that she gets it, provided she has access to the breast.
Soon your confidence will grow as you watch her more closely and respond to her cues. This is better than being guided by a chart on the back of the tin, which may suggest that your baby needs more than she really does. (if bottle feeding, give your baby short breaks after 30-40mls and allow her to decide if she would like more or not.)
Even if your breastfed baby seems to be piling on more weight than necessary, be reassured that studies comparing breastfed and formula fed babies, found that breast fed babies became ‘leaner’ sooner than formula fed babies.
Breast milk being tailor made to suit your baby’s individual needs, is more readily absorbed and therefore her tummy will empty sooner on breast milk feeds than formula feeds. So it is not surprising that a breastfed infant will want to nurse more frequently than a formula fed baby. Don’t restrict her feeds to reduce calories, she will only take what she needs.
Remember that you provide so much more than food to her. Suckling at your breast comforts and calms her, provides all the nutrients she needs and quenches her thirst.
If your baby is bringing up milk after feeds and your GP is happy that she is well and healthy, she may just be taking in more milk than she needs (maybe you have a fast flow or a lot of milk).
If your baby has unwittingly taken on more milk than she needs, it is not unusual for her to bring up the excess milk. Provided she seems comfortable once she has brought up milk, there is nothing to be concerned about.
If you are still feeling a little unsettled, speak to a breastfeeding counsellor about whether you are interpreting her cues correctly. It can be tricky to distinguish different cries in the beginning and this can lead to mums offering the breast more frequently that she needs.