Responsive feeding ….what does this mean? Responsive feeding is acting on your baby’s hunger cues, rooting, head bobbing, sucking on hands or fingers (not waiting for crying) or/and you responding to your own needs i.e. if your breasts feel full or you would like to rest….in other words it’s a reciprocal relationship.
Responsive feeding is about encouraging and developing a relationship between you and your baby. The breast should be offered at times of distress as well as at times of hunger. It enables your baby to reconnect with you and gather itself in a safe and familiar place and feeding will enable you and your baby to relax.
Please be aware that it is not possible to over feed a breastfed baby and it is always appropriate to offer the breast. Responsive feeding is for both breastfeeding and bottle feeding babies.
A baby is born with a very small tummy and only requires frequent, small feeds. In the first 24 hours some babies look to feed regularly and others less so. Offer your breast regularly and if you baby does not look to feed hand express drops of colostrum onto their lips. Colostrum is very high in sugars and by regularly dropping drips on to your baby’s lips your baby will not need to use their brown fat reserves. Below shows the average size of a baby’s tummy in the first few days. It shows that it is not necessary for your baby to have large amounts of milk and its ok for the stomach to naturally stretch over a few days.
After the first 24 hours you baby should feed a minimum of 8 to 12 times in 24 hours varying in length between 20 and 40 minutes.
Day 2: This is often the day when your baby looks to feed frequently, particularly at night. Your milk will be beginning to come in and your baby can taste the difference and so instinctively knows to stimulate your breasts so your milk comes in fully. Night feeds are very important to ensure a good milk supply as your hormones are higher at night.
The regular feeding can lead to worry that your baby is not getting enough. Be reassured your baby is on a mission to get your milk to come in and by feeding frequently there will be no need to give your baby any other milk. The maternity staff are there to support you.
Day 3 to 4: Generally your milk will come in today, your breasts will feel full and hot and your baby may find it harder to attach your baby to the breast. Feed regularly today and if your baby is struggling to attach hand express some milk to soften your breasts. Your breasts are at their fullest on day 5 and then begin to adjust to your baby’s needs.
Your baby will require no other fluid other than breastmilk for the first 6 months even if it is really hot outside. Your body is very clever and will adjust according to your baby’s needs.