Breast milk is best for your baby.

Health Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, and the Dietitians of Canada recommend that you exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months and that you continue to breastfeed for up to 2 years or longer along with complementary foods.

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The benefits of colostrum

For two to three days after your baby is born, your breasts produce a liquid that is thicker than typical breast milk. This is entirely normal. It is called colostrum and it is packed with nutrients your newborn needs. Because it is thick, the flow of colostrum is slow, which encourages your newborn to practice sucking, swallowing, and breathing at the same time. Nature really does think of everything, doesn’t it?

In your first week of breastfeeding, around day five, your baby will most likely master the rhythm of feeding, and your milk supply will increase to match his greater appetite. If by then you still feel like you are not in the groove, that’s okay. Lactation consultants can give additional guidance to help you settle into your rhythm at your pace.

How often should I breastfeed?

Of course, one of the things you will need to know to make feeding run smoothly is how to identify that your baby is hungry. Yes, she will cry, but this is a late sign of hunger. Before she starts to bawl, try and notice if she is making sucking sounds or is putting her hands to her mouth — even while sleeping. Once you recognize that she is hungry, make sure she is fully awake. You can help wake her by gently playing with her, changing her diaper, or talking to her before she feeds. If she shows signs of hunger — even if she was just fed an hour ago — it is OK to feed her again. Sometimes infants "cluster feed" before taking a nap. Do not worry, this does not mean your milk supply is low; it is just normal breastfeeding behaviour.

Your baby should breastfeed eight or more times in 24 hours. If your breasts are full (ouch!), you might want to wake her to feed. Talking, rubbing, patting, unwrapping, or undressing her will help. It could take up to five to 10 minutes to wake her completely, but it usually will result in a better feeding. On the other hand, if one or both breasts become engorged between feedings, use a breast pump or hand express to help relieve them.

Reference:

Dietitians of Canada, 2017.

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