What to know about your body and baby in the fourth trimester: Breastfeeding

Being in your fourth trimester, the first 12 weeks postpartum, of pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience, especially as a new mom. With a new baby and body changes, it can be hard to feel like you know what to do and what is going on with your body. In the upcoming series of articles on the fourth trimester, we’ll explore these. One of the major body changes in the first few days is breastfeeding.

How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?

Babies should be nursed when they show signs of hunger. The amount of time for each feeding and frequency of feedings will vary. Generally, expect to feed your baby 8-12 times every 24 hours. Signs that your baby is not getting enough milk include:

  • Lose no more than 7% of birth weight during the first few days after birth
  • Amount of diaper changes: 6-8 wet diapers and 3-4 loose, seedy stools per day (stools will become less seedy around 6-8 weeks)
  • Seem satisfied/happy for an average of 1-3 hours between feedings

Engorgement vs. mastitis

Breast engorgement occurs when the breasts swell from the milk accumulated in the breasts. Symptoms can include the breasts becoming tender and may be warm to the touch. This usually occurs gradually, onset can first occur two to three days after delivery. Generally, both breasts will be affected but won’t have a fever or redness as a part of the symptoms. If this occurs, to relieve the pain use ice packs or cabbage leaves on the affected breast(s). More frequent breastfeeding or using a breast pump in between feedings can also help reduce the risk of engorgement.

If you have opted out of breastfeeding, medications such as BENADRYL® and Claritin® should help dry up the breasts. Wearing a tight bra to keep them bound will also help.=

Mastitis is inflammation of breasts with sudden onset of a fever or flu-like symptoms. Other symptoms include one-sided localize breast tenderness, redness, warmth and hardened area. Mastitis is caused when the breasts aren’t emptied completely, wearing tight clothing and low maternal defenses (stress and fatigue). Treatment can include continuing breastfeeding on both sides, using a warm compress or taking antibiotics.

These tips were presented as part of a week-long series of events on Black Maternal Health Week. Visit the Louisville Coalition for Black Maternal Health Facebook page for more resources on maternal health. To schedule an appointment with UofL Physicians – OB/GYN & Women’s Health, call 502-588-4400.