Breastfeeding the First Day

Breastfeeding the First Day – All You Need to Know

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Your brand-new baby has arrived. The moment you have been waiting 9 months for is here.

Now what?

You think of all the things you have heard about skin to skin. You remember that you should breastfeed right away.
Breastfeeding is so important to you and you want to make sure you do everything right.
The very most important piece of advice to getting it right is don’t worry about doing it right.
Take this moment, this most important moment when your little one has arrived and enjoy it. Look into her eyes and welcome her. Feel the power of this moment. You will always remember it.
I remember when my first baby was born. I knew I should do skin to skin, but I’d had a C-section and I didn’t even get to hold him until I was in the recovery room. By then he was bundled up in a couple of blankets and he was in his sleepy phase.
I offered him my breast and he just kept right on snoozing.
He finally woke up and nursed before he went back to the nursery. We never did do skin to skin.
Even though I was a labor and delivery nurse it never occurred to me to do it so many hours after he was born. 
Breastfeeding the First Day
I have learned so much in the 32 years since then.
I worked for 24 years as a lactation consultant in a hospital. I worked hard to help us achieve Baby Friendly designation in 2015.I saw what a difference it made to breastfeeding when we implemented the ten steps of Baby Friendly.
I want to share with you what I have learned over the years.
These are the things that will make a difference in the first day of breastfeeding. These are the things that will help you get off to a good start.
I want you to know what to not worry about too.  

“Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but gets you nowhere.” (Glenn Turner).


Birth affects breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding the first day
But you can’t always control your birth.
Do as much planning as you can.
  • Take a breastfeeding class
  • Write a birth plan
  • Write a breastfeeding plan
  • Give birth in a Baby Friendly hospital if possible
  • Make sure your baby goes skin to skin as soon as possible after he is born
  • Watch for signs that he is ready to feed
  • Keep him skin to skin until he breastfeeds
  • Get help with positioning and latch
    • Laid-back breastfeeding”  is one of the latest trends in breastfeeding. Just lean back and let your baby self-attach. It’s awesome when it works. Not so awesome when it doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to give you little one some help and guidance. Listen to your instincts.

Skin to skin

Breastfeeding the first day
Skin to skin has so many benefits. It is good for your baby and it is good for you too! (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, Source 5)
  • Stabilization of baby’s temperature
  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Facilitates breastfeeding initiation
  • Longer breastfeeding duration
  • Babies cry less
  • Encourages bonding
  • Pain relief
  • Supports neurobehavioral development
  • Better cardio-respiratory function
  • Stimulates maternal hormones that can decrease bleeding
  • Less maternal postpartum depression
You can do skin-to-skin even if you have a C-section. Ask at your hospital if they do skin-to-skin in the OR. If they say no, ask if they will do it for you. It all starts somewhere!
If a medical reason prevents you from doing skin-to-skin right after birth, insist upon it as soon as you and your baby are stable.
A lot of books and articles  talk about skin-to-skin in the first hour or until your baby breastfeeds. I really encourage it for the first several days.
  • You baby will breastfeed more often
  • He will cry less
  • Your baby will stay more alert during feedings
  • It continues to have all the benefits mentioned above
  • Do skin-to-skin should if your baby has a low temperature
    • It is more effective than putting him under a warmer (Source).



Breastfeeding is new for you.

You want to avoid problems.

You want to learn as much as you can before your baby is here.

Get this free ebook to find out what other mothers wish they had know in the early days of breastfeeding.

First Feedings

Watch for cues showing that your baby is interested in eating.

Babies often look for the breast if they are skin-to-skin.
There are videos on YouTube that show babies doing the “breast crawl.”
The breast-crawl is where they wriggle and squirm their way to the breast and latch themselves on.
Your baby may take breaks and even fall asleep as he makes his way to your breast. This is normal.

Newborn stages

In the first couple of hours after birth a baby is usually very alert and interested in eating.
After that alert period a newborn will usually take a nice long nap. That isn’t surprising when you think about it. He just went through a pretty eventful experience!
You, on the other hand, are probably riding an adrenaline wave. Don’t worry too much about trying to nap. Just bask in the awesomeness of what you just did.
breastfeeding the first day


A lot of mamas think that they have no “milk” when their baby is first born.
Colostrum is milk. It is the early milk that is in your breasts when your baby is first born. Your body starts making it in the last trimester of your pregnancy.
It is a special, wonderful kind of milk. There is so much that is so good about it.
  • Colostrum is a laxative and aids in the passing of the meconium.
  • It helps close the gut lining which helps prevent allergies and diseases.
  • It is chock full of antibodies. Some people call it baby’s first vaccination.
Colostrum is made in small amounts. This is perfect because your baby’s tummy is very small in the first few days. It is about the size of a cherry.
first day of breastfeeding

Position and Latch

The best position is the one that helps your baby get a good, deep latch and one that is comfortable for you. This may be the cross-cradle hold, or football hold or even the side-lying position.
Signs of a good latch
  • Your baby is facing you.
  • His nose is opposite your nipple
  • When he opens wide pull him in quickly and closely.
  • His chin should be pressed into your breast.
  • His nose should not be pressed against your breast.
  • It doesn’t hurt! It will feel like a very strong tug, but it should not be painful.
Get help from a nurse, lactation consultant or your midwife. Keep asking for help until you feel comfortable doing it without assistance.
breastfeeding the first day
This is a picture of a baby that is not positioned properly. He is on his back and has to turn his head to latch on to the breast. That makes it hard to swallow. He should be tummy to tummy with his mom.
Try turning your head like that and then swallow.
Doesn’t feel great for you and doesn’t feel good for your baby either.

How Often Should You Expect Your Baby to be Breastfeeding in the First Day?

Have you heard that a baby should eat at least eight times in a 24 hour period? That may not happen her first day of life.
Depending on what the birth was like your baby may not be interested at all in breastfeeding the first day. She may only eat a few times, or she may eat as many as eight or more times.

What if your baby doesn’t want to eat at all the first day?

You probably read that and thought, wait, what???
A brand-new baby has never had to worry about eating before. She is figuring out what hunger is.
Things that can make a baby not interested in breastfeeding the first day:
  • A long labor or a difficult birth
  • Medications during labor (Source)
  • Being premature (born earlier than 38 weeks)
  • A tummy full of amniotic fluid
  • Being “spitty” (although that is not a medical term, we use it a lot).
    • This may be from a tummy full of amniotic fluid
    •  Spittiness usually doesn’t start until 12-18 hours after birth
    • I have a theory that it is the tummy getting used to functioning and figuring out what it is supposed to do.

What to do if your baby is not interested in breastfeeding the first day

  • Skin-to-skin (you can’t do too much)
  • Massage his back, rub his cheeks, lips and gums
  • Try hand-expressing some colostrum and rubbing it on your baby’s tongue or gums
  • Hands-down, the most effective way I have found to get a sleepy baby to breastfeed is the side-lying position with skin-to-skin.
    • Side-lying can be tricky with a newborn so get another set of hands to help you. A nurse, lactation consultant or midwife can help. She can show your partner how they can help with this position.

Things to Avoid the First Day

A lot of visitors. Don’t play “pass the baby.” This can cause over-stimulation.
Your baby may appear to be sleeping but often they have shut down because the stimulation is too much.
breastfeeding the first day
  • Supplementing
Most babies do okay if they don’t eat in the first day. They are born with stores to get them through that first day.
If the nurse is concerned, she may decide to check his blood sugar if. If the blood sugar is reassuring then there is no need to supplement.
  • Pacifiers

Avoid pacifiers in the first month of breastfeeding.

If a baby wants to suck, offer him your breast. 
breastfeeding the first day
  • Trying to get a sleepy baby to latch on for too long

Don’t actively try to get your baby to breastfeed for longer than 15-20 minutes at a time. If she’s not responding, let her sleep and try again in an hour.

Long sessions of trying will just wear her out and is usually very frustrating for you.

  • Mittens on her hands – babies hands are a very important part of their feeding behaviors. She needs to be able to get to them.

breastfeeding the first day

  • Tight swaddling – your baby needs to be able to move around. Skin to skin is best.

breastfeeding the first day

The baby who has a sleepy first 24 hours will often make up for it the second 24 hours by feeding very frequently.

Final Thoughts

The three important things to remember in the first day of breastfeeding are:
  • Do lots of skin to skin.
  • Watch for feeding cues.
  • Enjoy your baby!

 Do you feel ready for your first day of breastfeeding? What questions do you have after reading this? Leave a comment below and I will respond.

Related Posts

Feeding a Sleepy Baby

How to Safely Survive Second Night Syndrome

Breastfeeding the First Week: Five Easy to Remember Tips

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4 thoughts on “Breastfeeding the First Day – All You Need to Know”

  1. Congratulations! If they don’t start nursing frequently right away then start pumping that first day. Do lots of skin to skin, limit your visitors so you can get some rest. Start working with a lactation consultant right away. If you are interested, twins is a good reason to get a one on one prenatal consult. You can check out my consult page. Good luck!

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