Breastfeeding in the Early Days

Getting the Best Start with Breastfeeding – The First 48 Hours

Congrats on choosing to breastfeed your baby. Breastmilk is the perfect food for your infant and has every nutrient your baby needs as he grows. The first days home with baby can be exciting and equally overwhelming.

Skin to Skin

Skin to skin is a great way to soothe your infant as she adjusts to her new environment. Babies who spend lots of time skin to skin with mommy breastfeed better and cry less. When baby is placed in the center of your chest without clothing your body can help to regulate her temperature, respirations, and blood sugar just by laying with direct skin contact. Not only does this touch facilitate an amazing bond but it also stimulates important milk making hormones and calms mommy too. The most incredible things happen when holding your baby skin to skin. By placing her skin to skin when baby is awake and showing cues to feed, she may find her own way to the breast for feeding. Dads can participate in skin to skin time as well and enjoy bonding with the new addition. 

New babies eat A LOT!

In the first few days baby will feast on colostrum full of proteins, fats, vitamin A and antibodies to protect your little one from the new environment. It’s a good thing your baby nurses around the clock (8-10 times in 24 hours). This will bring copious amounts of mature milk in just as baby needs it. It will also set the baseline for your future milk supply. Allow baby to nurse as often as he wants at the first signs of hunger (sticking tongue out, sucking hands, making mouthing motions). It can be exhausting to tend to your little one this much but it will be worth it when your milk supply is plentiful and your baby is happy and growing well. 

Monitoring Intake

Monitoring your babies intake can seem impossible with breastfeeding since there is no measurement or gauge on your breast. Fear not! Babies have unique ways to tell their parents if they are feeding well or struggling while breastfeeding. First pay attention to baby’s body language. When a baby is hungry the fist are tight and near the mouth, he may even be chewing on them. As a baby begins to get milk you may notice the hands opening and dropping down towards the waist. The stiff, ridged body becomes loose and limp. Facial expressions can also offer clues. Your full baby will have a look of bliss, may have her mouth open and look very relaxed. More concreate evidence will be found in your baby’s diapers. Yes get ready to be examining your baby’s output for a while. Diapers in the first month should be abundant. The quantity should slowly build over the first week, adding an additional diaper per day of life and should hold steady between 5-7 wet diapers and 3-4 stools that are yellow in color, loose and seedy. This is normal breastfed baby poop. Wet diapers in the first few days contain as little as a few teaspoons and may be concentrated but over time the volume should grow and the color will be pale yellow to clear. Any changes in color to urine or stool should warrant a call to your healthcare professional for advice. Your pediatrician will monitor the weight gain of your baby and advise of any concerns. 

Sore Nipples

Breastfeeding should not hurt and getting a good latch is very important in order to breastfeed comfortably. Latching a baby to your breast can seem difficult at first but with practice it should come together nicely. It is not unusual to have some tenderness in the first week as hormones are adjusting and baby is learning to latch well. Ensuring that baby has a good portion of the areola in her mouth will help to achieve comfort and baby will be able to get more milk this way. Baby should never have just the nipple in her mouth, lips should flare out and chin and nose should touch breast. Check out this video of latch technique. 

Getting Help

If breastfeeding hurts and your nipples are sore, cracked or bleeding despite your efforts to get a good latch then it may be time to reach out for help. Although it is tempting to scour the internet for advice, hiring a board certified lactation consultant will ensure you are receiving the best advice and chance with alleviating the problem. Lactation consultants are required to complete a minimum of 90 hours of lactation specific education, obtain hundreds or thousands of hours of clinical hours helping moms and babies under supervision and finally sit for a board exam administered by the IBLCE. The consultant will help get to the source of the problem as well as help you heal and move forward with your breastfeeding goals.

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