There may be times when feeding your baby at the breast is not possible. You may need to express breast milk if:
- Your baby is having difficulty with latching
- Your breasts are too hard for your baby to latch
- You want to give your baby breast milk when you are away from your baby
- You need to increase your breast milk supply.
At the beginning if your baby is able to latch and suck well at the breast, it is best to continue until breastfeeding is well established. Breastfeeding is a skill that takes time for you and your baby to learn. Feeding at the breast allows your breast milk production to increase and allows your baby to learn to breastfeed well.
You can express your breast milk by hand or by pump. There are different ways to feed your baby expressed milk. You can use a cup, spoon or bottle. If you decide to use a bottle to feed your baby it is best to wait until the baby is 6 weeks old. Giving your baby an artificial nipple early can cause problems.
To feed your baby expressed breast milk:
- Shake warmed breast milk. Check the temperature on your wrist. Let it cool if too hot.
- Hold your baby in an upright position.
- Make feeding an enjoyable time for you and your baby. Talk to your baby and give lots of smiles.
- Watch your baby swallow. Allow baby to rest.
- Burp your baby as needed. Stop feeding when your baby shows signs of being full.
- Throw away what your baby does not drink within 1 hour.
- Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle.
Signs your baby is finished or full
- Looks sleepy and calm.
- Lets go of the nipple.
- Closes their mouth.
- Turns away from the cup or bottle.
- Does not look for more breast milk.
- May still have small suckling movement. This is a reflex and does not mean your baby is hungry.
If you see signs your baby is full, stop feeding even if the cup or bottle is not empty.
To learn how to feed your baby please visit Toronto Public Health’s free breastfeeding clinic.
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