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Newborns: A Quick Look at Keeping Up Energy, Connection, and Milk Supply

shutterstock_130579997-2Allyson Wessells, Columbus, Ohio

Maintaining energy, connection, and milk supply with a newborn is a fine balance. In the early days, energy is hopefully replenished with sleep and nutritious meals while others help with cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Sustain that connection by holding and wearing baby. Feed baby on cue. Milk supply is maintained with all of the above!

As the days turn into weeks, balancing gets easier when accompanied by understanding and patience. Become aware of normal, biological sleep patterns. Night nursing for baby’s nourishment and comfort can help foster healthy acceptance of the joys as well as the new demands of parenthood. Safely sleeping with or near baby can enhance this acceptance. Overall, patience nurtures the bond so essential for embracing each new phase.

As the weeks turn into months, different needs emerge. Some mothers may stay at home with their babies while others may return to work outside of the home. Though the circumstances may differ for each family, the need to maintain supply, connection, and energy remains. The strategies remain relatively the same in asking for help (even if less often), wearing baby, and feeding on cue when together. Feeding on cue may continue to be frequent or may become more spaced, depending on baby’s unique needs.

shutterstock_88249507-2Caregivers become an important part of connection, energy, and supply maintenance for mothers who return to work. Mothers can be reassured that, as babies grow in the coming months, milk volume and intake remain steady throughout each 24-hour period while milk composition changes to meet baby’s developmental needs. The milk expressed every two to three hours while at work helps to maintain mother’s milk supply, is designed especially for baby at that point in time, and is equipped with immune-boosting antigens specific to encountered germs. Hence, an upper respiratory infection picked up at daycare may be more easily remedied to help conserve energy and minimize sick days. Caregivers can be instructed to feed baby on cue, use paced bottle-feeding, or feed in smaller increments to keep feeding patterns similar to breastfeeding times with mother.

La Leche League meetings provide support, can be recharging, and help tie it all together. Different groups in the city where I live meet in the evenings and in the mornings to help accommodate mothers’ various schedules. I am always amazed by the strength of those who attend and share challenges and triumphs. Some mothers are in the early days of breastfeeding. Others are preparing to return to work or have an older baby as they balance a full-time job. Breastfeeding for mothers at various stages of mothering is a source of connection and energy, fueling love for growing children. These meetings can remind mothers that it is important to keep up energy, connection and supply as they learn to breastfeed their babies.