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Dr Virginia Thorley, OAM, PhD, IBCLC, FILCA

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

www.virginiathorley.com

Blog

Babies' hands and how they use them - "I've finished my feed".

Posted on April 13, 2019 at 8:12 PM Comments comments ()
With a first baby, it can seem so hard to tell if your baby has finished feeding or not. I have been asked about this a lot. Certainly the amount of time isn't a reliable indicator, as some feeds will take a shorter or longer time than others - it is normal for the length of a feed to vary through a 24-hour period. Usually, your baby's hands will give you cues about whether she needs to continue the feed or is finished. While there can be exceptions, I have actually found these very rare.

At the beginning of a feed your baby's hands will be bunched up, often tightly into little fists. Anyway, they'll be closed, not open and floppy. As the feed progresses, the hands become more relaxed, often a gradual process. If your baby stops feeding, but stays at the breast, you wonder, 'Is she just taking a break, or is she done?' A few babies may release the breast and go to sleep, but other babies just stay on!

When in doubt, it can help to look at your baby's little hand to see if the fingers have opened up, or to lift her hand gently to see if it is floppy. To give an example, a mother I know found this a useful guide with her first baby. He usually came off the breast and grizzled after a feed, and checking if his hand was floppy helped her to tell if he'd finished the feed and was 'just being him', or it he needed to resume the feed. I often find this cue that a baby's hands give is reassuring to mothers.

Baby's hands and how they use them - "I've finished my feed".

Posted on February 8, 2014 at 4:53 AM Comments comments ()
Caring for a new baby is a learning process for first-time mothers, especially as many mothers haven't held a newborn baby before. A common question is - "How do I know when my baby has finished a breastfeed?"
 
Of course, as you get to know your baby and gain more confidence, it is easier to know when the feed has finished. 
 
Unfortunately, people ofter tell mothers that a baby will always go to sleep or come off the breast by herself.  This isn't the reality with a lot of babies. They like staying there.
 
At the beginning of a feed, most babies have closed fists.  What I find is a good guide if you think the baby has finished is to see if your baby's fingers have opened out and if her hand is floppy.  This has been a useful guide for a lot of mothers.  As with any guide,  the occasional baby may act differently - but most will do this. If you use this as a rough guide, remember to watch your baby to know what is usual for her.

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