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Breastfeeding: An Important First Health Decision Parents Make

Breastfeeding: An Important First Health Decision Parents Make

Breastfeeding is the normal, natural way to feed your baby. You will be able to produce enough milk. The keys to success are early, frequent feedings, and proper positioning and latch of the baby at the breast.

Breast milk is a complete food for babies. Feeding only breast milk for 6 months is recommended, after which breastfeeding should be continued in combination with other foods. Breastfeeding can continue up to 2 years of age or longer, if you choose.

Breastfeeding In The First Few Weeks

A baby that is doing well:
  • has soft or loose bowel movements (stools)
  • during the first 2-3 days of life – 1-2 large or several small stools
  • after first 2-3 days – 2 or more stools in 24 hours
  • has pale, light coloured urine with almost no smell
  • in the first 3 days – 1-2 wet diapers per day (occasional red staining is normal)
  • as milk supply increases, usually by 4-5 days – 6 wet cloth diapers per day
  • is feeding well, at least 8-12 times in 24 hours
  • listen for quiet “caw“ sound of swallowing
  • is back up to birth weight by 2 to 3 weeks of age
  • gains 120-224 grams (4-8 oz.) per week during the first three months
Note: Wetness is easier to notice in cloth diapers. A facial tissue can be placed inside disposable diapers to help you tell if the diaper is wet.

Get help if any of these signs are NOT present!

Phone your doctor or midwife if:
  • your baby is very sleepy and hard to wake for feedings
  • your nipples are sore and do not start to get better
  • you have fever, chills, flu symptoms, or a red painful area on your breast. If you have these signs, continue to nurse often, apply warm, wet towels to your breasts before feeding and get lots of rest.
Weight Gain

It is normal for newborn infants to lose a small amount of weight (about 10% of birthweight) during the first 3-4 days after birth, whether they are on breastmilk or formula. Infants usually return to their birth weight in 2-3 weeks.

Babies often have growth spurts at around 2-3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months of age. During these growth spurts, the infant may feed more often. Feeding often at the breast will increase the supply of breast milk to meet baby’s needs. Your breasts will make enough milk to supply this growth spurt. Your baby’s feeding routine will return to normal in a few days.

Signs that baby is gaining well:
  • weight gain is steady
  • no repeated weight loss is seen
  • lots of wet and soiled diapers
  • baby is alert and happy
  • baby is meeting development goals
Do not worry if:
  • Baby does not gain, or loses a few ounces, during one week. One weight measurement is not enough to cause concern. Weigh the baby again at the next visit.
  • Your baby does not gain the same amount as another baby. Every baby has a different growth rate. You can only compare a baby to his/her own growth history, not to other babies.
Typical Weight Gain
AgeWeight gain per week
Birth to 3 months 4-8 ounces
4-6 months 3-5 ounces
6-12 months1.5-3 ounces
Double birthweight by 6 months Triple birthweight by 1 year  

When to get help:
  • Baby loses weight over time.
  • Sudden decrease in wet and soiled diapers
  • Change in health or development
If the growth charts show that your baby is gaining weight faster than you think the baby should be, do not panic. Every baby has a different growth pattern, and as long as weight gain is steady, then baby will be fine. There is no one perfect weight that every baby should be at a certain age. Never put baby on a diet to lose weight! Infant “diets” can put babies at risk of poor nutrition, dehydration, and slow growth and development. You can help your baby grow into a healthy weight by encouraging active play and offering a variety of healthy foods.

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