How often and how long should I breastfeed?

Breastfeeding should be calm and comfy. But how long should it last, and how often does your baby need to feed? It's a good idea to listen to your baby instead of checking your watch.

Let your baby decide how long they want to feed. Even when they're breastfeeding, children have very different needs and wishes. Some feed quickly, whereas others prefer to lie there at your breast for longer, and perhaps even sleep between feeds. This means that breastfeeding can take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour.
Allow breastfeeding to take as long as it takes - and avoid interrupting it. All children are unique individuals with different needs. Further reading: The perfect breastfeeding bra

How many times a day should I breastfeed?
Breast milk is easily digested. Babies who are breastfed therefore usually want to eat more often than babies who are bottle fed.
For the first two months, a lot of newborns want to feed up to 12 times a day - sometimes more. The amount of time between feeds can vary during the course of the day. Usually the interval is slightly longer in the morning and early afternoon. Towards the end of the afternoon and in the evening, a lot of babies want to feed all the time.
Your baby can be hungry even when you don't expect it, when you think "I just fed him/her a few hours ago." But give it a try anyway - your child may not have received that much last time, or they could also be going through an intense growth period.

If your child is one those children who prefers to sleep rather than feed, they might not need to be fed more than six times a day. In which case, you should try to wake your child up and offer them your breast more often, even at night. More information about sleeping in the same bed and breastfeeding at night. If your child still isn't interested in feeding more often, and just wants to sleep, you should talk to your paediatric nurse and check that they are putting on enough weight.

Sweet, rich breast milk
Every time you breastfeed, your child receives the most watery milk first. It is thinner and almost bluish in colour. The milk that follows is richer and more nutritious, and makes your child feel more satisfyingly full. Which is why it's so important that you let your child suckle until they let go of your breast themselves. That way you can be sure that your breast is completely empty and that your child has received the last drop of that nutritious "cream".

One or two breasts?
Breastfeeding with one breast per feed is usually enough. If your child prefers to feed more and less frequently, it's okay to first empty one breast completely and then give your child as much of the other breast that they want. But wait until your child is finished. That way, you know if one breast was enough. And remember to start with the other breast next time.

Your barn needs feeding more frequently
If your child wants to feed more often than every hour or every other hour, that could be a sign that they aren't getting those final drops of that rich, nutritious milk - or that they aren't suckling properly. But if your breast doesn't hurt, then your child is probably using the right technique, in other words, their entire mouth around your nipple and some of the areola, with their lower lip angled downwards. Try letting your child lay at the same breast for a bit longer. Keep them awake (tickle them under their feet or stroke their palm with your thumb) to make sure that they're completely finished feeding.

Ask for help if you need it
If you're having problems breastfeeding, there are several ways to get help. Talk to your paediatric nurse or breastfeeding counsellor by telephone or online - you'll find the contact information at the Swedish Association of Lactation Consultants
Read our article Breastfeeding – getting off to a good start or watch a video with breastfeeding tips.
And here's an article about what your partner can do to make breastfeeding easier.
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