Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Mama Trap: Baby Acting Hungry

The most common reason that I hear for supplementing is that the baby was "acting hungry". Usually this means baby was fussy. Unfortunately for most moms, babies are fussy creatures. Baby's behavior should NEVER be used as an indicator of if baby "got enough" or not. The ONLY reliable indicator of intake is weight gain and output (i.e., wet/poopy diapers). If those are good, there is NO WAY baby did not "get enough" from nursing no matter how he is acting.

I've had a screaming fatty and a perfectly content baby that gained NOTHING in two weeks. If I had gone on just behavior, well, I'd have fed that fatty even more...and my little content one would have continued to have no growth. And, a baby that is fully BF will "hungrily gulp down" a bottle just because the mechanics of the bottle are different. Doesn't mean they are hungry and "wanted" the bottle. Many a supplementing mama has fallen into that trap.

So, if you are on here wondering if you should supplement or not ask yourself this - is baby losing weight? Are you only wanting to supplement because baby is fussy or because baby really isn't doing well in terms of his output or his weight gain? And, if baby is gaining SOME, but maybe not as much as your doctor would like, the first step is ALWAYS to FIX the breastfeeding, not to supplement right away. Even if the baby is a slow gainer, he isn't in danger. There is TIME to fix this without getting into the terrible trap of supplementing. Ask for a referral to a lactation consultant. We'll talk more about gaining issues in another post.

Are you feeding baby frequently enough? I've found that babies not doing well a lot of time are put on "schedules" and expected to go 3 hours between feedings. Breastmilk digests in 90 minutes. BF babies, as a rule, don't go 3 hours usually when they are newborn and some well into the first year. Count feedings from the START of one feeding to the START of the next, regardless of how long it took baby to eat. Fussiness can often be attributed to a frantic very hungry "too long between meals" baby. So, if baby nurses at 8 am and eats for 45 minutes, you'd feed him again around 10 am, or 2 hours later, even though he ate for 45 minutes. Start to start.

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