Beginning to breastfeed: Answers to your 10 most-asked questions

Congratulations on making the decision to breastfeed your new baby! If you're like most new moms and moms-to-be, you have lots of questions. We can help -- we've answered your 10 most commonly asked questions. And if you don't find an answer to your question here you're sure to within our Breastfeeding Archive, where our lactation consultants have answered more than 600 questions.

1. How often should I feed my baby?
Most breastfed babies will nurse about 8 to 12 times each 24 hours in the early weeks. In the first week or so, as you and your baby are learning about breastfeeding, it is usually best to feed your baby at least every two to three hours from the start of one feeding to the start of the next during the day, with one longer stretch of up to four hours at night. However, if your baby asks to be fed sooner than two hours it is always a good idea to follow the baby's feeding cues even if the last feeding has just ended a short time ago.

2. How long should I feed my baby?
Most babies vary the length of time they spend on the breast. Allow your baby to finish the first breast before offering the second breast. You will know your baby is finished with one breast when she comes off spontaneously or has an extended period, longer than about a minute, of no sucking. It's normal for babies to take brief pauses in sucking lasting about 10 to 30 seconds after which they will spontaneously begin to suck again. These brief pauses are not an indication that the baby is finished. Allow the baby to take these pauses. You can encourage your baby to suck again if needed after a rest of about 10 to 30 seconds. After your baby has finished the first breast you may want to burp her, diaper her and then offer the second breast.

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