It’s safe to say in today’s world, we are all navigating life on information overload.
We ask ourselves, “How did our parents raise us without Google?” as we scour the internet for answers to every question that pops into our heads. The search results can be overwhelming. Who do we listen to? Our mothers and grandmothers who tell us to add cereal to our baby’s bottles to keep them full longer? Or our pediatricians who reinforce the importance of waiting to introduce solids until 6 months old.
These vast discrepancies in advice leave new parents in a confusing limbo where we see-saw between what we “should” be doing and what our parents did.
On top of all of that, this sea of anxiety takes place during a worldwide pandemic. And yet, we persevere!
Collected below are the 11 most basic facts and resources that helped my husband and I navigate the day-to-day challenges of feeding our baby with a combo of breastmilk and formula.
These came from doula’s, pediatricians, lactation consultants, friends, my own mother, and my personal experience.
Newborns can lose 7-10% of their body weight within the first few days of life
I learned to not panic when we left the hospital when my son weighed less than he did when he was born. Some babies can gain it back within about 2 weeks, some take longer.
Most newborns need to feed every 2 hours
This started from the moment my son was born until he regained his birth weight. Yes, this means feedings throughout the night! Those were brutal, but worth it. Once I got through the first 2 weeks, I started to see the light. Eventually, the 2 hour feeds turned into every 3 and sometimes every 4.
A newborn’s stomach is the size of a marble and doubles in size every day
This is why they only need a few drops of formula/breastmilk in the first few days. My milk didn’t come in for about 5 days and I learned that was okay! We supplemented with formula and he did great.
Lactation consultants are your friends
The one we met in the hospital supplied me with nipple shields, lanolin ointment and had tips to help me with baby latching. She helped us feel better prepared to handle feedings on our own when we finally went home.
Make sure baby’s nostrils are exposed when feeding
Baby’s face will be squashed up against your beast for feedings. Always check to make sure there is a small passageway of nostril exposed so they can easily breathe while feeding. I would hold my breast a certain way with my free hand so that my son’s nose would be more exposed. This was an easy way to adjust myself without disrupting the feed.
Learn how to recognize what your milk let down feels and looks like
I didn’t understand this concept until someone described it to me as a feeling of “shards of glass” in your breast. Essentially, it’s when you fill with milk and are most ready to breastfeed or pump. The below article helps to describe this concept in more detail. Once I learned what it was, I was able to regulate my feedings more easily.
Helpful Link: What is the Let Down Reflex?
You can adjust the settings on your breast pump to get milk more efficiently
I was surprised to learn that more power doesn’t equal more milk. The more you can emulate a baby’s suck, the more milk will be expressed.
Helpful Link: Making Sense of Breast Pump Settings
You will get very good at counting minutes and ounces
If you’re a breastfeeding mama, counting how many minutes your baby is fed from each side can help keep track of the amount of milk they’re getting. If you’re a formula feeding parent, it’s easier to count how many ounces your baby is getting at each feed by measuring on the bottle. Either way, your brain will quickly adjust to these new math skills.
Review and follow approved breastmilk and formula storage guidelines
Rules of 4s was my favorite tip and easiest to remember. 4 hours of milk at room temp, then put in the fridge. 4 days of refrigerated milk, then freeze.
Helpful Link: Proper Storage and Preparation of Breast Milk
Helpful Link: Infant Formula Preparation and Storage
Freezer Bags: Kiinde Twist
Refrigerator Bottles: Medela Breastmilk Collection and Storage Bottles
Baby poop color, consistency, and urine output is important
Breastmilk poops look like seedy mustard. Formula poops are a bit darker and thicker. Tracking the frequency and quality of all of these can be very important in the early days.
Helpful Link: The Color of Baby Poop and What it Means
Helpful Link: Wet Diapers and Newborn Urine Output
Helpful App: Hatch Baby App
A fed baby is a happy baby
These are very good tips written in a very clear and understandable way. I am sure they will be helpful to anyone who reads them.
Generally I do not learn article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so!
Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you,
quite great post.
I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The is an issue that too few people are speaking intelligently about.
I am very happy that I found this in my search.