Milk is digested quickly, so babies need their food regularly. And frequent feedings help encourage your breast milk production during the first couple of weeks.
You should breastfeed your baby between 8 and 12 times a day during the first month. When your baby’s about 1-2 months old, they probably will breastfeed between 7 and 9 times a day.
It should be done “on-demand” in the first weeks of life, which is about every 1-2 hours. Below, I will answer all your questions in more detail, so let’s begin!
How Many Hours Can You Go Without Breastfeeding?
Newborn babies shouldn’t go without feeding for more than 4 hours, even overnight. As your baby gets older, they will eat less frequently.
However, during the first 1-2 months, some babies might breastfeed every 90 minutes, while others might for 2-3 hours between feedings.
Can You Go Six Hours Without Breastfeeding?
You can’t go for 6 hours without breastfeeding during the first months after giving birth. In fact, some babies shouldn’t go without breastfeeding for more than 4 hours.
Newborns who feed on formula should take about 2-3 ounces every couple of hours. As your little one gets older, they will breastfeed less frequently.
Also, avoid going over 5-6 hours without pumping during the first couple of months. Furthermore, if you have a hard time executing sufficient pumping sessions, even a short one (increasing regularity even if milk isn’t removed completely) is helpful.
Are 5 Hours Too Long Without Breastfeeding?
It depends on the age of your little one. If it’s a newborn, 5 hours is just too much. But for an older baby, it is somewhat acceptable. As their age increases, they will need less breastfeeding, so you need to start introducing them to solid foods.
How do I Count The Time Between Feedings?
Experts suggest that you count the length of time between feedings from the start of the breastfeeding to when your baby starts breastfeeding again.
In simpler words, when your doctor asks how frequently your baby’s feeding, you can say “about every 2 hours” if your first feeding began at 6 am, the next one was at 8 am, then 10 am, and so on. Over time, your breastfed baby will have a more predictable schedule.
How Long Does Nursing Take?
A newborn breastfeeds for up to 20 minutes or more on one or both breasts. But as they grow older and get more experienced in nursing, they can take around 5-10 minutes on each side.
However, how long it takes to nurse depends on you, your little one, and other factors such as the following.
- Your newborn baby is distracted or sleepy
- Your breast milk supply has come in (this usually occurs between 2 and 5 days after birth)
- Your milk is fast or slow
- Your newborn baby starts breastfeeding immediately or takes it slow
- Your newborn has a good latch, getting as much as possible of your areola
- Your let-down reflex occurs immediately or after a couple of minutes into a feeding
If you’re concerned that your baby’s feedings seem too short or too long, call a doctor and ask for their opinion.
Why is My Baby Hungrier Than Usual?
When breastfed babies experience rapid growth, also known as a growth spurt, they want to eat more than usual, so don’t worry. It’s normal and can occur at any time.
However, in the early months, growth spurts usually occur when a baby is 7-14 days old, 2 months old, 4 months old, and 6 months old. During these periods and whenever your child seems hungrier than usual, just follow their needs.
How Long Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
It’s your choice! However, experts suggest that newborn babies be breastfed exclusively (without food, water, formulas, juices, or other milk) for the first 6 months. Breastfeeding can go on until 12 months or more if it’s making your baby happy.
It comes with many benefits for both moms and babies. Studies disclose that breastfeeding can reduce a baby’s chances of ear infections, diarrhea, and bacterial meningitis or make symptoms less severe. It can also protect kids from SIDS, obesity, diabetes, and asthma.
How Does Breastfeeding Benefits Mothers?
For women, breastfeeding helps shrink the uterus and burns calories. In fact, nursing moms might get back to their pre-pregnancy weight and shape quicker.
Furthermore, breastfeeding also helps reduce a mom’s risk of breast cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, as well as protects them from ovarian and uterine cancer.
What Happens if You Go Too Long Without Breastfeeding?
Pumping milk can seem optional; however, experts say that moms who don’t pump or breastfeed regularly risk engorgement, a painful condition that can cause infections and other medical complications.
Breasts start producing milk in the first few days after giving birth, even if you don’t breastfeed. If you don’t breastfeed, your breasts can feel swollen and sore. This is known as engorgement.
What Happens if I Don’t Pump for 8 Hours?
You should pump between 8 and 12 times a day if exclusively pumping immediately after breastfeeding or in between breastfeeding. However, if you don’t feel like pumping on a day, don’t. Nothing will happen if you don’t pump for 8 hours, so don’t worry about it, and enjoy your day!
Combining breastfeeding and pumping has many benefits like increasing breast milk supply, preventing infections, and providing additional milk for bottle-feeding. However, it also has some downsides, such as adding extra costs, oversupply issues, or spoiled milk supply if handled and stored improperly.
When Should I Start Pumping?
You should start combining breastfeeding and pumping once the former is fully established and going smoothly (usually between 6 and 8 weeks after birth, but it can be different for everyone). Some women prefer to combine breastfeeding and pumping from birth, which is also completely safe and increases milk yield.
However, it can make breastfeeding more difficult in the first weeks if your little one is also bottle-fed. If you’re worried about your baby’s health, ask for professional help and make a feeding plan to make sure it is getting enough milk.
Some say you shouldn’t go longer than 5-6 hours without pumping during the first couple of months. In my opinion, if you don’t feel like pumping during some moments, you shouldn’t. So take care of yourself and listen to your own body and mind.
What Will Happen if I Accidentally Miss Pumping Sessions?
Missing pumping sessions regularly can increase your risk of getting clogged milk ducts or mastitis. You will also start producing less milk. So, I also suggest that you stick to your schedule as much as possible. Again, if you miss one pumping session every now or then, like many moms, it’s not a big deal. It won’t hurt your milk production.
I also want to mention that because breastfeeding is a supply and demand task, there’s actually no need to pump. And if you pump, you’re basically instructing your body to produce more milk. So this might work well if you’re building a milk supply. Otherwise, it could result in oversupply.
Do I Need to Wake Up My Baby at Night to Breastfeed?
Furthermore, breastfeeding during the night is great for milk supply. However, you don’t need to wake your sleeping baby or pump if they sleep at night, especially if your baby’s growing fine and doesn’t have any medical issues like jaundice.
Just feed them when they’re naturally awake. And if you’re engorged or uncomfortable during the night, just pump or hand express a small amount of milk for relief.
For newborn babies, double pump every 2-3 hours for about 15-20 minutes at a time. As they get older and begin consuming more per feeding, going longer between feedings, and consuming more solid food, you should be able to decrease pumping sessions, including those exhausting ones during the night.
What Will Happen if I Don’t Nurse My Newborn Regularly?
Note that lack of breastfeeding in infants increases the risk of infectious morbidities such as pneumonia, gastroenteritis, and otitis media. There’s also a higher risk of obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome, and leukemia.
Is it Better to Breastfeed On-Demand or Schedule?
It’s better to breastfeed on-demand which means giving your baby food when they’re hungry during the first couple of months. Most babies ask for milk every 1-2 hours. However, as they grow older, they can go 2-3 hours between feedings, so don’t stress about it too much. Just follow your baby’s needs and breastfeed as necessary.
High Five for Your Breastfeeding Efforts!
As babies get older, they become less dependent on nursing. So, just stay consistent for the very few months and you can loosen up as your child becomes older.
If you have any breastfeeding and pumping tips, or further questions, drop a comment, and let’s continue the conversation below! Lastly, if you find this article helpful, share it with other moms who might need help on their breastfeeding journey!