When it comes to breastfeeding, and parenting in general, it seems like everyone you meet has an opinion. When family, friends or even strangers offer advice, it can be hard to know what is fact and what is folklore.
Although this information or advice usually comes from people who want to offer support, it can negatively affect your breastfeeding experience.
Trust your instincts! If you hear some advice that does not make sense to you, check the facts with a healthcare professional. Use your common sense and remember that no one knows your baby as well as you do..
Here are some of the things you might have heard after breastfeeding 39 days.
Bigger breasts means bigger milk supply
People often assume that a large breasted woman will have a good milk supply.
The amount of milk your breasts can produce is based on the glandular, or milk making tissue within the breast. It’s not glandular tissue that determines the size of a woman’s breasts, however, but adipose, or fatty tissue.
A woman with smaller breasts could have loads of milk making tissue but not much fatty tissue; a woman with larger breasts might have a lot of fatty tissue, but less milk making tissue.
Regardless of cup size, most mothers are able to make enough milk to meet the needs of their breastfed babies.
Do soft breasts mean no milk?
In the first few days after the birth of your baby, your post birth hormones bring in your mature milk.
When this happens, a mother’s breasts can feel very full or even engorged. Engorgement is not just due to the milk in the breasts, but also the increased blood flow and extra cellular fluids.
Although this stage usually only last 24-48 hours, it’s common for a breastfeeding mother’s breasts to feel very full between feeds for the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
As time goes on, your milk supply regulates, to match your baby’s needs. Softer breasts at this stage do not mean you don’t have as much milk; it’s just that your body now recognizes the right amount of milk to make for your baby.
How often should you be Breastfeeding 39 days old?
A 39 day old baby should be breastfeeding around 8-12 times in 24 hours.
Periods of cluster feeding are also normal.
If you are finding cluster feeding challenging, you can read BellyBelly’s article Cluster Feeding | 7 Tips To Survive Marathon Feeds.
Breastfeeding causes saggy boobs
Some people might tell you that breastfeeding causes saggy boobs.
This is not true.
Saggy boobs are mostly caused by time and gravity. The weight you gained during your pregnancy and your weight loss post partum can also contribute to saggy boobs, just like it can contribute to saggy skin on your tummy or on other places of your body.
To choose bottle feeding over breastfeeding in order to avoid saggy boobs would be a mistake, as scientific research has shown that breastfeeding is not the cause.
You can read more about this in BellyBelly’s article Saggy Boobs | 7 Facts About Boobs and Breastfeeding.
Your breastfed baby should be on 4 hourly feeds
Some people might tell you that your 39 day old baby should now be going for longer stretches between feeds, or that you should try stretching out breastfeeding to every three or four hours.
We know that breastfeeding works best when you follow your baby’s lead and feed according to your baby’s cues.
It would be very unlikely that a 39 day old baby would be able to go many hours between breastfeeds around the clock.
Some 5 week old babies might go for a 4 hour stretch, or longer, at some point during the day or night, but will usually make up for it by breastfeeding more frequently at other times.
Cluster feeding means your baby is not getting enough milk
Cluster feeding at 39 days is normal. In fact, cluster feeding is normal for breastfed babies of any age, not just for a 5 week old baby.
Your baby might cluster feed while going through a growth spurt, and there are many growth spurts in the first year of your baby’s life.
If you are concerned your baby might not be getting enough milk, pay attention when you are changing diapers. Although its hard to measure the amount going in for a breastfed baby, we can still measure the amount coming out.
If your baby is having at least 5 heavily wet diapers in a 24 hour period and regular, soft bowel motions, this is a good indication your baby is getting enough.
Your baby should also have consistent weight gain and meet all developmental milestones, as expected.
Your expressed milk is a good indicator of your milk supply
The only time that pumping is a reliable indicator of milk supply is if you are exclusively expressing.
Most babies are much better than a breast pump, when it comes to getting milk from a breast. If you are pumping milk after a breastfeed and concerned that you’re getting only a small volume of milk, this is usually because your 39 day old baby has effectively emptied the breast while breastfeeding.
If you have not been pumping milk regularly, you might find that it takes some time and practice to get your body used to expressing milk.
The most reliable indicator of milk supply is your baby. Monitoring your baby’s output (i.e. wet and dirty diapers), weight gain and your baby’s growth in length and head circumference will give you a more accurate indication of your milk supply.
Formula will help your baby sleep through the night
5 week old babies need to wake and feed at night to ensure they are getting enough nutrients and calories to meet their expected growth and developmental milestones.
You might be surprised to hear that there is actually no specific age that babies should be ‘sleeping through the night’ and that all babies are different. Some babies that do start to sleep through the night in the early weeks after birth might become more wakeful at night over the next few months.
You might also be surprised to hear that babies who are fed formula also wake at night and that development of the circadian rhythm is not complete until around 12 weeks of age.
Many babies won’t start sleeping through the night until well after this time.
For more information you can read BellyBelly’s article Will Formula Help My Baby To Sleep Better At Night?
The nutritional value of breast milk decreases after 12 months
No matter how many months postpartum, your breast milk is always a valuable source of nutrition for your growing baby.
Many parents mistakenly believe that, at 12 months of age, their breastfed baby should change to drinking cow’s milk or formula.
It makes no sense to think that changing babies from breast milk to the milk of another species would have any health benefits.
Until your baby is 12 months of age, breastmilk is the most important source of nutrition. This does not mean it becomes unimportant after 12 months, it just means that, for most babies over 12 months, their main source of nutrition will be solid foods.
Breast milk continues to provide your baby with important nutrients and immune factors for as long as you choose to breastfeed.