It’s natural, its normal, it is HUGELY beneficial.. but its not always easy. Nursing your baby is a wonderful way to provide nutrition that can never be imitated by an outside source (no formula companies have yet to come even close to matching breastmilk properties). It also has immense physiological and anatomical benefits (which will talk about in a later post). Not to mention the health benefits it provides for you! But for this post lets talk about surviving the first week!
In a perfect world after the birth baby latches within 1 hour of birth, wakes on his own to nurse every few hours, and latches easily with no discomfort!
Many, many, many times this is how it works!
But sometimes things can be difficult. Especially when you’re tired, emotional and baby’s crying!
So first things first… You can do this! You’re a good mama! Your baby is okay! Remember this when the hard times come. Second of all…If you’re our client, call us! We are here for you, we want to help you and are here to support you.
Alright so now what’s normal in the first 3 days here we go.
Babies Need to Nurse Frequently
Day 1: When are born they have very small stomachs. So small they are only about the size of a cherry and hold approximately a teaspoon on the first day! Because of this they need to eat very frequently. Often every 2 hours or even less! It is very important to feed the baby as often as they want! At this point the milk that you have is called colostrum and is very think, rich and nutrient dense. The only need very little to meet their needs. So don’t be afraid if you feel like you don’t have any milk, it’s there and it’s enough!!!!
Remember they will give early feeding cues like putting their hands to the mouths, turning their heads side to side, or starting to make small mewling noises. It is good to respond to these cues early before they turn into crying! Babies will usually want to nurse every 2-3 hours. However, they may decide to nurse more frequently or occasionally stretch out their feedings to 4 hours. Most babies should be woken up to nurse if they go more than 4 hours between feedings. It is good to note that most babies will take a longer sleep within a couple hours of birth, often up to 5 hours. This is okay and a good time for you to rest too! Frequent nursing is what encourages your mature milk to come in!
Day 2: This is more of the same. Babies stomach has grown slightly, but not much! It is important to continue to nurse on demand as much as baby wants! Babies are usually more awake during the
night then during the day be prepared to be up much of the night!
Day 3: Your mature milk usually comes in on this day (though it can be later). Your breasts may feel very full and firm. This is called engorgement and will resolve as your baby regulates your supply. It is still important to nurse frequently for baby’s sake and yours! You don’t want milk left in your breasts for along time as this could result in mastitis (a breast infection). Baby’s stomach has grown and now is about the size of a walnut!
Things to Watch for:
Baby Won’t Latch: Call your midwife! We may be able to help with position, assess for a tongue tie, help with supplemental feeding, and much more! Please don’t hesitate to call us! A key thing to know is that if baby wont latch and you really have to feed expressed milk a bottle is not your only option! Syringe, spoon, or cup feeding are a much option to help establish a good nursing relationship and avoid nipple confusion. We can assist you with these and there are lots of Youtube videos on how to use these methods as well.
Baby Won’t Wake Up: Try undressing baby down to the diaper, setting away from mom for a moment (letting them get a little mad), rub their feet, back, cheeks, etc. Lethargy is a baby that is so sleepy he won’t wake up on his own to nurse nor will he really wake up with help. Falling asleep at the breast after only a couple of sucks, not latching, showing no interest in the breast or having poor tone can all be signs. Call your midwife if you your baby is acting lethargic!
Nursing is Painful! Call your midwife! Nursing shouldn’t be painful. If your are experiencing pain during the whole feeding please call so we can help. Often adjusting baby’s latch is all that is needed to make a huge difference. There are also other things we can asses for or ways to help if needed. Suffering through painful nursing can lead you to cracked nipples, bleeding, and blisters. No one wants this! A small amount of discomfort at the beginning of a feed for just a few sucks can be normal and is usually the result of the nipple being drawn out. Any more than this and seek help right away!
Alright, first 3 days down! Next week we will talk more about what the rest of the week looks like!