Today, Carole Arsenault of Newborn Nurses offers breastfeeding basics for baby’s first two weeks:
“Many women read several breastfeeding books and take at least one breastfeeding class during their pregnancy. However, once baby arrives many women forget some important basic information, especially as it relates to the newborn’s first two weeks of life. Here are breastfeeding basics to keep in mind during the first two weeks.
Day One: The first few hours
Try to nurse the baby as soon after delivery as possible, once mom and baby are stable and the delivery is complete. When a baby is first delivered they are usually wide awake, alert and eager to suck. Go ahead and try to latch baby to your breast yourself or ask your nurse to help. Some babies latch on with little assistance while others require a bit more time. Whether or not your baby actually feeds is not as important as the attempts. Even if your baby has just a few sucks, he will get some colostrum in his tummy. The baby’s stomach at this time is the size of a marble so it doesn’t take much to fill.
Several hours after birth your baby will be very tired and will usually sleep for most of the next 24 hours. You will need to attempt to feed him at least every three hours. During the first 24 hours a few sucks are OK.
Day Two: Baby is 24 hours old
Once baby is 24 hours old he needs to get serious about feeding. A few sucks at the breast will not be enough food to feed the baby. Put the baby to the breast every 1.5 – 2 hours for at least 10-15 minutes (within a week he should be feeding between 15 -20 minutes).
It is recommended that babies feed on one breast at a time for up to 20 minutes to ensure that they get both the foremilk and hindmilk. At that point, if baby is still hungry, put him to the other breast. Most babies this age will only feed for a few minutes on the second breast. If this is the case, begin nursing on the second breast at the next feeding. Getting into a pattern of switching sides will prevent engorgement and encourage supply.
Mature milk supply is not yet established; your baby may be hungry so it is important to feed him frequently. Most babies are still sleepy – so mom will have to continually wake baby during the feeding session. Tickle his toes and fingers, undress him, and take his hat off, rub his back or burp him in an upright position – these actions will usually help to arouse a sleepy baby. Very few babies will be able to feed long enough without being woken several times.
Days Three and Four
Under normal circumstances, mature milk will come in within the next few days. You may notice a change in the color of the milk from yellow to pale white, which is the color of mature milk. Baby's stools will also start to become yellow instead of the dark meconium that you see on day one and two.
When mature milk comes in your breasts will feel heavier and full. When your breasts are producing milk they are about four times heavier than normal. Keeping you baby on the breast frequently will prevent the breasts from becoming too full (engorgement).
When your baby feeds now you may hear swallowing and gulping as baby nurses. Count your baby's wet diapers to make sure that he is getting enough milk. Once the mature milk is in the AAP recommends that your baby has a minimum of 6 wet diapers per day.
Your milk production will match the amount of food that your baby needs. Avoid giving supplements of formula (if you can) during this time. If for some reason your baby needs supplements, though, do not panic or worry. Sometimes this is necessary during the early days before the milk supply is fully established.
By now, baby should be latching on to the breast well and feeding every 1.5 – 3 hours. If not, get help right away from your health care provider or lactation consultant.
Days 6 – 9
Your daily routine of feeding the baby should now be established. You should be feeling more comfortable with latching and positioning of your baby. Tender nipples and the minor discomforts from the first few days are starting to disappear. If you are experiencing pain during the breastfeeding session and your nipples are so sore that you are dreading the feeds call your health care provider for support. Lactation consultants can usually provide the assistance you need to fix the situation – most of the time it is the baby’s improper latching technique.
Continue with frequent feeds and diaper counts. Because many babies can lose close to 10% of their body weight during the first two to three days you are trying to help him regain this weight by the two week mark.
Days 10 – 14
Your breasts will suddenly feel softer now and not quite as full. Do not worry – this is normal. Unless it is time for a feeding your breasts will not be full and swollen like they were a week ago. Your baby is much more awake now and not sleeping as much. Feeds are becoming easier and baby is staying at the breast longer.
Breastfeeding is an experience you will always remember. The first few weeks can be very difficult but try to stay calm and relaxed, and be sure to seek support if you need help."