The length of each breast feeding varies widely. Some babies are very efficient, fast feeders and are satisfied with only 5 minutes per breast. Other babies love to suckle and demand up 20 to 30 minutes or more per breast. Offer both breasts at every feeding. The second breast is optional. If your baby chooses to nurse only 1 breast then begin on the second breast first at the next feeding. You will need to care for the second breast, if uncomfortable. You can either pump that breast and store the expressed breast milk for later use or delete the supply that your baby does not need by use of bags of frozen peas or ice bags. Refer to the section on weaning for care of the breast not nursed, if uncomfortable. If you need to remove your baby from your breasts be careful to avoid nipple damage. With your clean finger, nail clipped very short, pry your baby's jaws opened at the corner of his/her mouth. Leave your finger in place while you back your nipple out of baby's mouth.
The frequency of each breast feeding will also vary. The average breast fed baby wakes and requests to feed about every 2 hours. Some babies are hungrier and request more often nursings. Feed these babies on their demand. If your baby is quiet and mellow and does not request a feeding, rouse and encourage your baby to breast feed at least every 3 to 4 hours. If your baby weighs 6 pounds or less, rouse and encourage your baby to feed at least every 3 hours round the clock. The baby's physician will decide when your baby may sleep longer and be fed on demand during the night.
Pacifier Use vs. Finger Suck
Avoid using pacifiers until your baby is latching well to your breast without difficulty. Place a note on your baby's crib- no pacifiers please, baby learning to breast feed!! Use your clean little finger, nail down to the baby's tongue, if your baby needs more sucking or soothing after nursing. If and when you choose to use pacifiers, think safety first. Purchase a one-piece pacifier that will not be able to come apart into pieces. Wash pacifiers daily or more often when needed in very warm soapy water and rinse well. Allow to air dry. After the pacifier is dry, pinch the nipple. If the nipple sticks together, discard the pacifier to avoid a choking hazard as the nipple decomposes.
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