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Thread: How do you know when the breast is empty?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,096

    Default How do you know when the breast is empty?

    Hi ladies,

    I recently bought a book on breastfeeding (I think the title is The 7 natural laws of breastfeeding, or something like that), that explains that with some feedings your baby might only want one breast, and at others, the baby may drain the first, and at that point, you should offer the second one to see if baby wants any more. My question is, how will you know once the baby has drained the first? With my first ds, I breastfed for about a month before moving onto pumping (we had issues that I wasn't quite sure how to deal with, but this time I am bound and determined to exclusively bf!), and I was never able to tell when he was done the breast. He fell asleep all the time, and when I would try to take him off, he would begin suckling again, but it I don't recall if it was ever because he was still hungry, or if he was using me as a pacifier.
    Does anyone know how I can tell when to switch breasts?

    Punky
    Mommy to L - May 7, 07' , B - February 7, 09' , and R - August 18, 12'

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    97

    Default Re: How do you know when the breast is empty?

    I don't know much because I just started and mine is 9 days old but I am giving it about 10 - 12 minutes on each side - I don't think they actually go "empty" but like I said I don't know too much just a beginner myself..
    Sha Nay Nay
    MOOOO
    = working mom

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    19,880

    Default Re: How do you know when the breast is empty?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*sha.nay.nay View Post
    I don't think they actually go "empty"
    The breast is never entirely empty, since more milk is constantly being made.

    The answer to "How do I tell when to switch breasts?" is generally "Allow the baby to finish the first side and then offer the second." So let baby nurse on side A until baby is no longer swallowing and the sucking has slowed way down. There's no time limit that really works because all babies nurse at their own pace. Some are fast eaters, getting all they need in a few minutes, while others will take 20-30 minutes per side. And let's say your baby nurses on side A, then on side B, and still seems to want more; in that case, don't be afraid to offer side A again.

    If your new baby is as sleepy as your first, there are some things you can do to keep him awake and focused at the breast. Undress him when nursing, rub a cool damp washrag on the soles of his feet or against the grain of his hair, and use breast compressions to send a gush of milk into the baby's mouth.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4

    Default Re: How do you know when the breast is empty?

    It's true that the breast is never truly empty . . . your body is constantly making more milk. I think the reason books write things like that is that you want to make sure the baby is getting both the foremilk (the thirst quenching "skim" milk) at the beginning of the feeding and the nutrient dense hindmilk that comes in the later parts of the feeding. If you just feed the baby for a minute or two then switch sides, baby might only be getting the foremilk and missing out on the nutrients in the hind milk.

    It can be tricky for a new mom to be certain that baby is getting both (since you can't see what's exactly going into baby's mouth), but there are ways to tell. If a newborn baby is having sufficient bowel movements, then he is getting hindmilk. After a while you will be able to notice the different in suck when baby is getting hindmilk---usually slower and longer swallows. Also once you feel a letdown, you are letting down hindmilk (don't worry if you don't feel a letdown in the early weeks---it takes time for some mom's to feel it).

    Good luck! I'm confident you'll be able to meet your breastfeeding goals this time around.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,096

    Default Re: How do you know when the breast is empty?

    Thanks for the replies!
    I'm glad that I now know what to look for when the baby is "done" with one breast. I guess more of my concern was that the baby is getting to the hindmilk before I switch over to the other breast. By the way, I double checked and the name of the book is Breastfeeding made simple: the seven natural laws of breastfeeding. It's given me quite a lot of good information already, and I'm about halfway through, so I'm glad that I decided to get it! I feel so much more informed this time around (not only because of having the experience with baby #1), so I'm pretty confident that I'll succeed.
    Mommy to L - May 7, 07' , B - February 7, 09' , and R - August 18, 12'

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