Newborn breastfeeding is a full-time job. Empower yourself with the knowledge of what to expect in the first week of breastfeeding with this breakdown of what to keep in mind and some tips and tricks to get you through.
Just had a baby in the last week? Let this newborn breastfeeding guide help you through.
Birth to Day 4:
• Feed Early and Often: Newborns need to nurse 8-12 times in 24 hours. Try to initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth starting with immediate skin to skin after baby is born. On day 2-4 babies will nurse almost continuously and may be a bit fussy at the breast. This does not mean they need supplementation. Put your baby skin to skin to calm them and follow their feeding cues, latching at the first sign of hunger.
• Latching takes practice: Give you and your baby grace as you figure out the most comfortable latch. It will take time. Your baby should be very close to you when attempting to latch. Their body should be touching yours with their tummy on your tummy. Allow their chin to touch your breast first well below the nipple and wait for a wide open mouth then latch baby with bottom lip first and upper lip touching last. Your baby's cheeks should be touching your breast and you should not be able to see their lips. If you feel like their nose is being smooshed into your breast (like in this photo) then slide your baby towards their feet so that their chin tilts up and therefore frees the nose.
• Ensure baby stays active: Watch your baby's sucking patterns. When your baby starts slowing or falling asleep use breast compression to help push milk down to them. Baby's are flow dependent and fall asleep quickly when the flow stops. Newborns may need help staying active and not falling asleep too quickly. Generally make sure baby is finishing the first breast first before switching to the other breast.
• Diaper Count: Poopy diapers are a great way to be sure that your baby is getting enough to eat. For every day of life your baby should have 1 poopy diaper up until they average about 3+ poopy diapers on day 3. After day 5 poop should transition to yellow and seedy.
• Weight gain: Weight loss of 7-10% can happen by day 3-4 and is normal. After this weight gain starts to occur with babies regaining birth weight by 2 weeks old.
After day 4:
• Nurse your baby on demand: This will be about 8-12 times per 24 hours. Milk supply is determined by demand so making sure milk is removed often and effectively is important for your milk supply. Milk supply at 6 weeks is very much influenced by how well you are removing milk now.
• Expect Cluster Feeding: Babies will go through periods of wanting to nurse very often. This can be as often as every hour. Feedings will not be evenly spaced throughout the day and that is normal. Do not try to hold your baby off because the clock is telling you it's not feeding time yet. Your baby can't tell time, they only know that they are hungry or need the comfort of the breast. Cluster feeding often happens in the evening hours between 4pm-10pm.
• Finish the first breast first: Let your baby nurse on the first breast until they come off or fall asleep. While they are there, ensure they are actively sucking and swallowing. Use breast compression if needed to encourage them to stay active if they are sleepy. The fat content in your milk increases as the breast drains. The milk at the beginning of the feeding is more watery and thinner which hydrates your baby. The milk at the end of the feeding is fattier and needed for weight gain.
• Diapers: Having 3-5 poopy diapers about the size of a quarter per 24 hours means that
breastfeeding is going well. Poopy diapers will decrease around 6 weeks old when baby's digestive system matures.
• Weight: A baby that is gaining weight well is gaining .75-1oz per day. This tells us that your milk supply is exactly where it should be and your baby is thriving on your breastmilk.
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