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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub



Feeding patterns for a newborn baby

What is the "ideal" interval between feeds for a newborn?
In strict natural terms, feeding should be on demand. Hunger is a natural instinct and the baby will demand a feed whenever the need arises. This way, there is virtually no risk of overfeeding and, as long as the milk produced is adequate, no risk of underfeeding either. A new baby never demands a breast when he or she is not hungry and, even if it is offered in such circumstances, the tendency is for the baby to decline.

Is there any other acceptable feeding pattern apart from "on demand"?
Experience has shown that feeding every three to four hours roughly simulates the natural demand cycle and may be ideal for those mothers who want to fit feeding around their other activities. A mother should not expect the baby fed this way to be waiting contentedly for the regimented hour to strike. Rather, it is more of case of "where-have-you-been-all-this­ time-mummy-while-I-am-dying-of-hunger" wails. It does, however, work pretty well.

It is important for a new mother to know that roughly six hours out of every twenty-four will be spent on feeding the baby, whatever the method. This cumulative duration lessens gradually as the baby grows and is fed less frequently.

For a full-time working mother who wants to continue breast-feeding, are there any drawbacks?
A few. Firstly, it will most probably be necessary to mix artifi­cial formula and breast-feeding. This is not considered ideal.

Secondly, the fact that there are prolonged periods without suckling will lead to reduced milk production. Suckling is crucial in maintaining milk production.
Thirdly, breast engorgement and considerable discomfort are inevitable with this kind of arrangement.

Is there any way around the problems mentioned above?
One can try. Expressed and stored milk to be used during the hours when mother is absent can reduce the need for formula feeding to a minimum. If the work environment allows, milk expressing can be done at work. This will help prevent engorgement and also maintain milk production.

How much milk is required by the baby per feed?
It has been calculated that, on average, a young baby requires 20 ml of milk per kilogram of body-weight. A baby weighing 5 kg (11lb) will therefore need 100 ml per feed. Of course, there are considerable differences among babies.

What is the weight-change pattern of a newborn?
Virtually every mother knows that after the birth the baby loses weight. The birth-weight is regained at around the end of the first week of life, though this may take slightly longer. Thereafter, at least for the ensuing three months, the baby gains an average of 30 grams per day. This means, in slightly over a month, the baby will put on a kilogram (2 lb) in weight. The weight doubles by three months of age and he or she will be three times the birth-weight by the time he or she is six to eight months old.