Note: The information featured on this page is currently under review, and will be updated in due course. Please ensure that you speak with your health care professional about any queries you may have about the issues covered here.
If you are breastfeeding your baby at home, you will have probably started expressing and/or breastfeeding while your baby was still in the unit. However, you may have some questions about it now that you don’t have unit staff on hand to help you.
How will I know my baby is getting enough breast milk when I am at home?
Premature babies who are getting enough to eat have six to eight wet nappies every 24 hours, consisting of pale urine that does not have a strong smell, and regular bowel movements. All babies have different stools; however, in general, these should be soft, yellow and seedy-looking. Your baby will seem content and happy after a breastfeed and grow steadily, at their own pace.
For any specific questions, you should consult your health visitor or a health professional in your Trust.
How will I know my baby is hungry?
The key is listening to your baby. If they give you a hunger cue, feed them. If you offer the breast and your baby starts to feed, they must be hungry!
You should particularly look out for:
- Rooting (when a baby opens and closes their mouth in quick little movements, looking for something to latch on to)
- Hand to mouth movements
- Sucking movements
- Sucking on fingers and hand
- Opening of the mouth in response to touch.
Watch your baby closely while they feed, so you can be sure they are swallowing and sucking well. You may have to remind them to keep sucking and swallowing by stimulating them gently.
When should I express now that I have started breastfeeding?
When your baby starts to establish breastfeeding, you may find it confusing knowing when to express. The tip is to continue to express so that your supply does not dwindle. It is important not to express just before a breastfeed as this reduces the supply of milk for your baby. However, if your breasts are very full, it can be useful to express by hand briefly in order to soften your breast.
Do I still need to express my milk after my baby goes home?
This will depend on your milk supply and how well your baby is feeding. It is very helpful to continue pumping until your baby is able to breastfeed well, as it will help you maintain your milk production. Some babies may find it easier to develop a good sucking rhythm when their mum has a good milk production. If your baby is growing well, you can try feeding them ‘on cue’ when they feel hungry, and feed them as much as they want. However, you should aim to slowly reduce the number of times you express, down to once every two or three days.
What should I do if my baby does not want a feed?
- Be patient and keep trying.
- Be sure your baby is positioned well.
- Offer a cup or a bottle as a last resort.
- Continue to express and give the milk to your baby.
What if I am not producing enough milk?
Any breast milk is better than none, so don’t worry if your baby is also taking some formula. If you need to increase your milk supply, ask your health visitor for advice or call the Bliss Helpline.
For more information on breastfeeding contact The Breastfeeding Network on 0300 100 0212