The standard description of a 'good' breastfeeding baby is one who feeds 8-12 times a day, for between 5-30 minutes per feed and is content after the feed.
Well, anyone who has breastfed will be able to tell you that this is not a description of reality.
When my baby was two weeks old I tried to write down everything we did in a 12 hour period. It was too hard, but I think it is a good picture of what we were actually doing for 9 hours, when it looked like I was doing nothing. (shown on pictures)
6am wake up, feed, cry, walk around, feed, burp, feed,
9.40 I wake up and get dressed
10.40 feed in sleep, she continues to sleep
10.55 I finish getting dressed
11.00 go down to make my breakfast to take upstairs
11.20 baby wakes up, bring her down and continue making breakfast
11. 30 take baby up, then take breakfast up.
11.35 remember I've left the dog inside, go down and let her out.
11.40 she breastfeeds and I drink my smoothie
11.42 baby poop and burp - wait for second installment
11.46 change nappy and continue breastfeed and smoothie
11.50 second poop installment
11.52 baby falls asleep on the breast
11.58 change nappy and continue breastfeed and smoothie
12.05 baby falls asleep on the breast
12.08 woke up for a little cry
12.11 back asleep on my chest
12.15 lay her on the bed next to me
12.18 she woke up, breastfeeding while eating my toastie
12.22 asleep on breast again
12.26 Lay her in the bed next to me finish breakfast and drink tea
13.03 she wakes up for a breastfeed, lay down feeding
13.15 crying, laid across chest to feed from opposite breast.
13.20 fallen asleep laying across chest
14.08 4 and 8 year olds brought home by mother in law. Baby wakes up, take her down to see her brothers
14.30 8yr old has complete breakdown because he's hungry and can't decide what he wants to do with his afternoon.
14.55 mother in law leaves
15.00 manage to calm down 8yr old and get him to eat.
It's easy to see that this general description falls short of what actually occurs, there is very little in motherhood that is actually clear and precise. The vast majority of it is messy, breastfeeding is no different.
When we breastfeed on demand, as nature intended, then we are dealing moment to moment with what is occuring in front of us, or in our arms.
We might be asking:
It was only 20 minutes ago that she fed for 30 minutes, does she really want more?
Does this count as one feed or two?
Should I use the same breast or the other?
I want to eat my breakfast, should I scoff it first or should I wait till they're finished?
But then they might be asleep on me and I might not be able to move!?
So many questions that are not answered by the generic description.
There are other ways to understand if your baby is well and 'good' at breastfeeding. Firstly, trust your gut, if you feel there is something wrong, then look for support. You can also ask yourself these questions: Is peeing 5-6 times a day and pooping at least once a day.
Are they gaining weight appropriately, at least 50g every two days in the first month.
Do you leak from the breast that you are not feeding from?
Does your breast feel full before and soft after feeding?
Do you see milk in their mouth?
Are their poos changing from dark brown, to green to orange?
If you need help, support or information please get in contact.