10 reasons besides hunger why babies feed
Articles we love: this is a repost from Motherlove, a brand that discovered the bond between motherhood and mother earth with herbal care products for pregnancy, birth, baby and breastfeeding, formulated to nurture both body and soul.
If it seems like your baby is constantly breastfeeding, it’s important to know that 1) you’re not alone; many mothers experience this, and 2) it doesn’t necessarily indicate that your baby isn’t getting enough milk in any feeding. In fact, the majority of mothers who believe they have a low milk supply are incorrectly assigning certain normal baby behaviors to thinking that the baby may not be getting enough milk from the breast. This situation, known as “perceived insufficient milk” or “perceived low milk supply,” accounts for the number one reason why women wean early. After generations of supplemental feeding, our culture has lost our communal wisdom about how a normal breastfed baby behaves.
The reality of frequent feedings in some babies is that breastfeeding is about much more than simply providing nutrition. There are many reasons your baby wants to be close to you and breastfeed. Understanding those reasons can help you feel more at ease, make your baby more relaxed, and get more joy from your breastfeeding journey.
Why Does My Baby Want to Feed Frequently?
If you feel you are producing enough breastmilk and your baby is getting a good latch, but still nurses frequently, there are a number of other physical and emotional factors that may be involved. It could be that your baby:
1. Is learning. Babies have a need (and a natural drive) to nurse effectively. Wanting to nurse frequently can be a sign that your newborn is working on perfecting this important skill.
2. Has a need to suck. Normal full-term babies are born with a strong instinct to suck. When a baby sucks, it causes the baby’s nervous system to release hormones that trigger digestion. Increased digestion means increased growth.
3. Sees or smells your breasts. Babies aren’t driven to nurse by hunger alone. Did you know that the areolas of your breasts contain Montgomery’s glands, which secrete an oil that smells similar to amniotic fluid? The odor from Montgomery’s glands stimulates appetite and increases sucking behaviors.
4. Is overstimulated. Babies feel safe and protected when in your arms, and especially when nursing. If the world they are trying to understand seems a little overwhelming, they may want to nurse as an escape from the surrounding chaos.
5. Has a physical ailment. From an upset stomach, to sore gums, to needing their eardrums to “pop” on a plane, babies find feeding to be a great way to address their physical discomfort.
6. Is going through a growth spurt. Babies often breastfeed frequently during a growth spurt. The more he or she feeds, the more milk you will produce. Your supply will adjust to your baby’s needs after a day or two.
7. Sees you nursing another one of your children. Babies, like adults, view eating as a social event. If you are nursing multiple children, the fact that one is feeding may prompt another to want to feed as well.
8. Needs to reconnect emotionally. As babies start to gain more independence and spend more time apart from their mother, they may want to “check-in” with a quick feeding even if they are not hungry.
9. Is coming down with a bug. Babies instinctively understand that your breast milk provides an array of disease-fighting antibodies. If they have been exposed to a bug, they may want to feed more frequently.
10. Wants to ensure they are a top priority. Some babies have an increased desire to feed when they see dad close to mom, presumably making a statement that mom is their source of nourishment and support.
In general, frequent breastfeeding just means that your normal, healthy baby is doing what he or she needs to feel happy and content. However, if you have other reasons to believe that you don’t have enough milk to meet your baby’s needs, Motherlove's More Milk Plus products are designed to support breast milk supply in breastfeeding mothers.
For more on certified organic products that supporting moms and babies, visit Motherlove.