At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

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Expand view Topic review: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by caryn » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:28 am

They're also the hardest because the baby is often premature and just isn't developmentally coordinated enough to manage to sleep *and* eat when their curve expects the umbillical cord do be doing all that food stuff for them, and for it to be dark and for them to be in a little crowded watery space. Oscar didn't really wake up and look around until right around the point at which he would have been due.

He nursed for years and years, and I would never have kept it up if the going had continued to be quite so rugged!

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by heather j » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:11 am

In my experience, the first six weeks are the hardest because you're recovering, baby is eating a lot and eating slowly, and you'll be logging very few consecutive hours of sleep. That said, it gets SO much better after that. Oliver is nine months now, and he nurses (both sides) in 8-10 minutes a session five times a day. It's really soooo easy once you and your baby get the hang of it and establish a good nursing relationship.

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by aajatwins » Tue Oct 11, 2011 02:14 am

Oh, goodness, no! It definitely stretches out in time spans as baby gets older. It is different for every baby, but they will mostly be staying awake longer (and sleeping longer) by 6 weeks, even. And as they get older and get better and more efficient (and so do you!) at nursing, it won't take as long either. Just be very patient with yourself and your baby in the beginning. It's a challenge, but such a rewarding experience. Your local La Leche League can come in really handy (google them), in case your lactation consultants aren't the greatest. Either way, finding someone who can come over and help you out - seriously, you might have to let someone physically help you out - can go a LONG way in how well you and baby do.

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by jean » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:07 am

Do they keep up that pace/schedule for the entire first year or so, or does it kind of taper off a bit and end up being longer spans of time between feedings at some point?

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by heather j » Mon Oct 10, 2011 09:25 am

I would completely agree with what Caryn has said. Mine were all 36-7 weekers. Oliver was the easiest, but I think having a learning curve helped. He had a great latch and seemed to know just what to do. He didn't have jaundice and was ALWAYS eager to nurse even in his earliest hours of life. He also took forever. ;) That said, he nursed every two hours around the clock for the first week (for example, he'd wake and nurse at 6 am, take an hour to do so at 30 minutes each side, sleep for an hour, and begin again at 8 am). He was easy, and I was SO exhausted. If it is at ALL possible, I would really suggest having someone there to help you the first week. It's helpful to have someone else fetch the baby, help change him, help you with meals, etc. All you'll be wanting to do is getting to know your new baby, care for him, and REST. The good news is that (in comparing the pregnancy when I was critically ill to my best pregnancy/recovery) is that your body will just *know* what it's accomplished and what needs to be done. I've never been able to fall asleep once I'm awake or wake easily for that matter. I had no problems waking around the clock and instantly falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. :)

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by caryn » Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:43 am

It was exhausting, and I'm sure even with a normal pregnancy and a term baby it's exhausting. With a preemie and a critically ill mother it is no fun whatsoever. We need help with our babies. :)

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by alexis » Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:31 am

It definitely is. What I did, to maximize the amount of help I got because I was having a planned CS, was have my mom there for a week, then DH took a week off work (this way, he got to use his days at home and spend time with the baby, and my mom did childcare for the older one while I was in the hospital). But, tbh, if he'd had the days to take I would have had him at the hospital too. The nurses at my hospital this time were really good, but they aren't my personal slaves. I had to send the baby to the nursery overnight the first night because I wasn't fit to care for him alone. If DH had stayed I could have managed.

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by jean » Sat Oct 08, 2011 04:37 am

Wow-(sounds exhausting!) so it really is helpful to have your hubby there in the beginning! I think my hubby was thinking he might take a day or two off when the baby is born, but maybe I should try to encourage him to take a few more days..

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by caryn » Sat Oct 08, 2011 02:53 am

The suck reflex is developmentally triggered around 34 weeks, IIRC. Oscar was a 34 weeker and a Caesarean and learned to nurse after a week and five days, mostly because by then he was discharged and I could spend literally the entire day either nursing or sleeping. Teaching him to nurse went like this: baby wakes. Husband changes baby while I pee. Work on latching for 15 minutes or so. Pump while hubby bottle-feeds baby what I pumped last time. Go to sleep for an hour and a half. Baby wakes...

After he worked it out, it went: baby wakes. Change baby and pee. Nurse for half an hour. Go to sleep for an hour and a half. Baby wakes...

He gained 12 oz. the first week, so he was getting plenty once he learned what he was doing (and once I learned what I was doing) and after that the biggest issue was that he was still developmentally immature and a horrid sleeper.

Re: At what gestation are babies able to breastfeed?

Post by alexis » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:34 am

It's gradual. 36-37 weekers are known as slow feeders. They can breastfeed but they are sleepy and may have a poor latch and suck. They're also more likely to have jaundice, which interferes with good BFing. 37 weekers are well known for being tricky because they look perfect and don't need NICU time, but they often require a little more help. Nothing insurmountable, but useful to know about in advance. LCs will tell you there's a real difference between 37 and 39 weekers. (I remember telling an LC this time that I was looking at a 37 week and a CS to boot--this is when I was admitted at 32 weeks with high BP--and she made a face.)

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