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Whether you’re a first-time mom, or already have children, you may worry about being able to produce enough milk for your newborn. Families with a full-term, healthy infant can follow these simple tips to build and maintain a good milk supply.

Feed Your Baby: In the early weeks, newborns need to eat frequently. On average, an infant feeds 10 to 12 times in 24 hours. Typically, you’ll need to breastfeed your baby every two to three hours. At times, your infant may need to “cluster feed,” when babies space several feedings close together at certain times of the day, then go longer periods between other feedings. Cluster feedings may take place during growth spurts or prior to a longer sleep period. Remember, you cannot overfeed your baby at the breast.

Practice Skin-to-Skin: Studies show that when mothers hold their infant skin-to-skin on their chest, it stabilizes baby’s heart and respiratory rates and regulates body temperature. Because your baby can smell your milk, they are more likely to show early hunger cues. Doing this primes your baby for a feeding and helps them thrive.

Hand Express: Early and frequent removal of milk by hand has been shown to boost supply. A lactation specialist can help you learn how to hand express. Practicing hand expression after each feeding is a simple and effective way to build supply during the early days of breastfeeding. It also helps avoid engorgement. Afterwards, you can freeze the milk for future use.

Avoid Supplementing: Unless indicated by your infant’s healthcare provider, avoid using bottles during the first three to four weeks. Any feeding that does not occur at the breast can decrease milk supply. Breastfeeding is a supply and request relationship. The more often an infant “requests” milk, the greater the supply.

Find Your Support Team: Like much of parenting, breastfeeding is easier with the support of others. Billings has a wide array of lactation support, including lactation consultants, lactation specialists, breastfeeding peer counselors and monthly meet-ups for breastfeeding and pumping mothers. Visit Billings Breastfeeds or the Billings Breastfeeding Coalition on Facebook for a local lactation support list.

Breastfeeding can take practice and support, but as you nourish and get to know your baby, you’ll find it becomes easier. Trust your instincts. When concerned, reach out to a lactation specialist or your healthcare provider for help.

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Amy Queen, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant for RiverStone Health WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, can be reached at 247-3370 or amy.que@riverstonehealth.org.

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