Breastfeeding… What comes to mind when you first think about breastfeeding. Before I became a lactation consultant and mom of 2, I thought breastfeeding is the most natural (and therefore, easy) thing you can do for your baby! I was in for a real treat after I had my first back in 2019. Let’s face it… Breastfeeding isn’t always easy! It isn’t always natural!!
Breastfeeding can be hard.
Breastfeeding can be challenging.
Breastfeeding can feel AWKWARD
And lastly, breastfeeding may not feel natural to you.
And mama, that is OKAY!! Breastfeeding is a skill. And just like any other skill, it can take time and practice to get it right. On top of that, you’re also trying to teach your baby this skill that you may not feel completely comfortable with. All while you’re sleep deprived with a tiny human that’s HANGRY.
So let’s talk about how to best prepare yourself for this new “skill”. First off, I highly recommend a childbirth and infant feeding class while you are still pregnant. There is no way to know it all, but being prepared is one of biggest pieces of advice! The more prepared you are – the more confident you will feel.
If you are needing a childbirth or infant feeding class – be sure to check out Nurtured Nest . Nurtured Nest offers expert-led, on demand parenting classes to equip you with the latest research and plenty of support – on your time.
Okay, so now you’ve taken the courses but what should you really expect those first few days after having baby?
The first 48 hours can be a rollercoaster of emotions! You’re ecstatic to have this baby, but you’re also exhausted… and a little (or a lot) nervous! This is normal!!
In short; the first 24 hours are called recovery sleep or “Birthday nap” and the second 24 hours are typically dubbed as the cluster feeding period. It’s a complete 180 flip. Babies may go from not nursing much at all to then wanting to nurse ALL THE TIME. I assure you these two stages are very normal.
The First 24 hours: Baby has just arrived! Right after birth you may have a really great feeding. Babies are typically most alert in the first 2 hours of life. Although it is ideal to have a first feeding in this time, it is not mandatory!
Then hours later, baby will not latch at all… And now you’re concerned! Baby must be hungry, right? It’s been so long since baby ate!
The tables then turn in the second 24 hours as baby starts to wake up! The second night of babies life is typically when baby does the infamous cluster feeding. It’s important to remember that every baby is different. Some babies cluster feed earlier and some later.
Typically both of these stages scare parents. The first 24 hours parents stress because they feel like their baby is not eating enough THEN the second 24 hours they feel like their baby is eating so much that they are starving and must not be getting enough milk!
I assure you that it is not the case! Here are some tips for the first 48 hours:
- Continue offering baby 🤱 the breast every 2-3 hours. Or on demand once cluster feeding sets in! This means you should have a total of 8-12+ feedings per day with baby.
- Skin to skin! AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. You will not spoil your baby. Research shows baby’s that are left skin to skin, feed more often!
- Hand Expression – Rub it on their lips. Their belly is only the size of a grape 🍇 they don’t need much!
- Watch diaper output
Which leads me to my next topic: Diaper output!! The number one question I get from new parents is, “How do I know baby is getting enough if we’re breastfeeding since I can’t see how much milk baby takes?”
This is a very hard concept to overcome. We are human. We like to see things. We like to quantify. It is so easy to doubt our body because we can’t see how much baby is getting.
Remember: what goes in —> must come out!
Diapers are what we can quantify. We can see pees and poos!
An easy way to remember this is by how many days old a baby is. So for the first day we only need 1 pee and 1 poo. Second day: we need 2 pees and 2 poos and so on. Up until about day 5-6, baby’s will typically average 6+ pees and at least 4 poos.
The color of poo will also transition. When baby is first born they will have thick, sticky dark black poo. It will then start to get thinner and transition to a dark brown, to green then finally to yellow and seedy.
You’ll be more obsessed with diapers and poo than you’ve ever been in your life, it’s okay.. We all do it!
What are some other ways that we know baby is getting enough milk?
⭐️ 𝗔𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝘀𝘄𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄𝘀 – you should be able to hear (and see) your baby swallowing. Swallows will sound like a soft “caaa” sound. You should see good jaw and cheek movement as well as their throat moving when they swallow.
⭐️ 𝗕𝗮𝗯𝘆 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗔𝗡𝗗 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗱𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 – This is a big one. Yes, your newborn will sleep but your newborn should also have good awake periods throughout the day. Besides when baby cluster feeds (see my post about this), your baby should GENERALLY be content between feedings. If you notice your baby is having a tough time waking up for feedings, be sure to talk to your ped AND a LC!
⭐️ 𝗕𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀𝘁𝘀 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗼𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗳𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗳𝗲𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀- Are you really a breastfeeding mom if you don’t grab your boobs several times a day? Your breasts will likely feel a little more firm before a feeding and after should feel lighter and softer. BUT remember, as time goes on and your supply regulates you may lose this “fuller” feeling. (see post on this)
⭐️ 𝗪𝗲𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗲𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗱𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘀 – Initially your newborn will lose a little weight right after birth. Normal weight loss is up to 10% of birth weight. After your milk comes in, your baby should be back up to birth weight by 10-14 days. From then, normal weight gain is 4-7oz per week until 4 months old. It is also important to watch developmental milestones as well as weight.