Babies are smart, strong, agile and act on instinct from the moment they are brought into this world. They are alert following birth for 2-3 hours. It is beneficial for you and your baby to offer skin to skin and your breast at this time. Nursing your baby when he or she is hungry is called “nursing on demand.” The remaining hours of that first day, try to breastfeed “on demand” or attempt at least every 3 hours if baby does not wake on his own. Look for hunger cues such as waking, putting hands to mouth and rooting. In these early days, it is not possible to feed your baby too much. In fact, you may not see a clear pattern and this is NORMAL. They may even go for longer strecthes than three hours and there is nothing to worry about. Let your baby nurse “all the way” on the first breast, then offer the second. They may not take the second breast and that is ok. You know your baby is satisfied when sucking has become less frequent or they have completely come off the breast. As long as you and your baby are content, there is no need to limit long sessions. Likewise, shorter sessions are like a “snack.” Watch the baby not the clock.
*TIPS FOR SUCCESS: Relax , cuddle your baby, feed on demand, sleep when your baby sleeps, room in, and keep them skin to skin.
Day 1: 1 tsp at each feeding time
This is your baby’s first vaccination. Ask for help to hand express colostrum that they can lick at your breasts if they are not latching. He or she may sleep the first 24 hours and you may not see a pattern, but offer the breast when you can and keep your baby skin to skin.
Day 2-3: 7-15mls (1-3 tsp)
Your baby may wake and cluster feed, primarily at night and prefer to be in mom’s arms. They may be fussier and want to latch and feed often. They are telling your body, “it is time to make more milk.” This is normal. Feed them, keep them skin to skin or swaddle them on your chest.
Day 3-5: 20-30ml
Your milk will increase in volume and your breasts are fuller. Continue to feed on demand and nurse the baby on one side until he comes off or slows down and offer the second breast. He may not always want it. Try to arouse him five minutes later and try again. If he doesn’t want the second breast, that is ok.
Day 6-14: 2-3 ounces
Milk is in, baby should be close to birth weight or back to it by two weeks. Baby will want to eat every 2-3 hours. If they are gaining weight, let them arouse you at night. Sleep when your baby does.
Most babies do not burp a lot when they are drinking colostrum the first few days, however, still burp them for a minute or two. If you don’t get one, no big deal. Start all feedings with a burping session. They usually will give you one and this also helps to arouse them and be more eager to latch.
Pacifiers and bottles:
All suckling baby wants to do this early on is meant to bring your milk in. Pacifiers satiate them and then they’re tired for the true feeding. Introduce them once your milk is established and breastfeeding is going well. The same goes for bottles. Wait at least 3-4 weeks, unless you will be away from your baby or your baby is not latching.
It is only necessary to pump at this early stage if your baby is NOT latching. Let your baby demand the supply and then at week 3 or 4 you can pump to store milk in the freezer.
Breastfeeding is a team sport that demands patience, practice and sometimes a coach. Please schedule an appointment with me after you’ve been discharged from the hospital, especially if your baby is born between 35-38 weeks gestation. In addition, I can help with nipple pain, latching and any questions or concerns that have come up. The first two weeks are ususally the most challenging. There are many factors that can make it very vulnerable and I am here to help guide you through that difficult time. As you near the end of those two weeks with some help, you’ll be so happy and eager to have reached and achieved all your long term goals of breastfeeding your baby.