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Q&A:
How can we get our infant to nurse longer at each feeding?

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Question


We have a 4-day-old baby who wants to breastfeed for only about 10 minutes at a time before falling asleep. She keeps waking every hour to feed because she's never full. This has caused a major problem: Her mother isn't getting enough rest, and the baby isn't receiving the nutrition from the "good" part of the milk. A public health nurse suggested that we supplement the breastfeeding with some formula during the late-night feeds. My wife seems to like the idea, but I'm not so enthusiastic. Any suggestions or opinions?

Answer


Please don't supplement with formula. This will cut down on Mom's milk supply and will likely doom the nursing effort. At 4 days the baby is doing what she is supposed to do — nursing all the time to prompt strong milk production. When the milk comes in fully, the baby will spread out the feeding interval and everyone will get longer sleep intervals. Mom's sleep organization has changed to help her sleep in these baby snatches of time, so give in to it and snooze around the clock as the baby does.

To get your baby to nurse longer, undress her so she is skin to skin with Mom. If she stops, bounce her, sing a song, and do a dance to get her going again. You should have your baby's weight checked by her primary care physician during this time. As long as the weight loss that we expect at this age isn't excessive, just keep nursing and sleep when the baby sleeps — at two-hour intervals day and night. Most moms get discouraged with fatigue and the sense that things aren't going right, but it's all part of the normal nursing process. Call your local lactation consultant or a specialist in the primary care physician's office for extra help.  
 
 
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