Breastfeeding Questions - Breastfeeding Baby's Feeding Patterns
Hi, I have been exclusively breastfeeding my almost 4 month old and have a few queries no-one seems to be able to answer. He has changed his feeding pattern dramatically : from 20 - 30 minute feeds (10-15 mins each side) to 5 mins each side. I am feeding him 2.5 to 3 hourly because I always have and now he spills so much more so is that too often? Also, he wakes 2-3 times at night (3 hourly) and takes a feed - would giving formula help him sleep longer?
I would appreciate any advice.
Congratulations on your new baby and well done for exclusively breastfeeding for so long!
As your baby grows his tummy gets bigger and can hold more milk at each feed. His suck is also better so he can access the milk a lot better in a much shorter time so it is normal for feeding patterns to change dramatically. Babies also have growth spurts at around 4, 8 and 12 weeks when they are much hungrier and feed a lot more often!
If he is spilling a lot of milk it is likely that the flow is very fast and he cannot keep up with it so that is why it runs out of his mouth. Don't worry though as this is normal too and he will get better at keeping up with the supply as he develops.
2.5 - 3 hourly feeding is normal too! All babies vary, some feed hourly, others less often, but this is nothing to worry about!
However, it is not always necessary to feed from both breasts at the same feeding. Try to feed for longer at one breast at each feed to ensure the baby is getting the nourishing and wholesome hindmilk which will satisfy his hunger better. If you are sure the breast is empty, then offer the other breast. Breastmilk is made on supply and demand and by encouraging baby to feed for longer at each breast your supply will increase and his hunger will be satisfied!
As for giving formula, please don't listen to stories that it makes babies sleep longer. Some babies are better sleepers than others and the first thing many new mums hear about feeding is that babies on formula feed better! Night-time feeding when breastfeeding is essential as levels of prolactin, the milk producing hormone, reach a peak in the early hours of the morning. If you give up night feeds, it will cause your milk supply to decrease and the feeding pattern will get worse.
Also, many breastfed babies who are given a bottle tend to get confused as a completely different sucking action is required! Then they may refuse the breast as milk is easier to get from a bottle!
Because breastmilk is lighter than formula and easier to digest many breastfed babies do wake more often but they don't suffer from constipation if they are fully breastfed!
As he is almost 4 months old he is likely to be hungrier. It is only recently that babies have not been started on solids until 6 months as the World Health Organisation feels this gives their digestive systems and kidneys more time to mature. As a result, your baby has a little longer to wait for his first solid, but with good reason. So do try to hold off the formula!
If you have been expressing milk perhaps you could try giving him that at some point during the day instead - or get someone else to give it to him!
All in all, it sounds like everything you are experiencing is normal! Why not join a breastfeeding support group and meet new and experienced breastfeeding mothers who can share their experiences with you? These groups are run by experienced midwives and health-visitors and often specialised breastfeeding counsellors are there too to answer questions.
I found my local group a lifesaver when I had problems with all three of my extremely hungry babies, one of whom I am still breastfeeding at 13 months old and who still wakes a couple of times each night!
Ask your health-visitor to recommend a group for you.
And do speak to your GP if you are at all concerned about your baby or how you are coping with breastfeeding.
I hope this helps! Let me know how you get on!
Hi, thank you so much for this.
Just one more thing! After 5 minutes on the first breast, I really persevere with it but he will not take it back and gets upset. When I put him on the 2nd breast he settles quickly and feeds for 5 minutes until he seems full. I can easily express milk after he has fed from each side.
Can I assume 5 minutes is enough from this behaviour? I am going to get him weighed tomorrow to make sure he's getting enough but he is very placid between feeds.
I shall not try the formula and am relieved to read your advice!
It sounds like your baby is emptying the first breast! So, as long as he is emptying one before moving onto the other, then he should be getting plenty of hindmilk. And if he is placid afterwards, then it he must have a good full tummy!
I'm delighted I was able to put your mind at ease. Don't hesitate to contact me if you need any more advice.
Keep up the good work and try to get plenty of rest yourself so that your body can keep up with your hungry baby's appetite!
All the best with the weigh in!
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