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BREASTFEEDING THE FIRST DAY – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

Breastfeeding the first day may not go the way you expect.

The moment you have waited nine months for is finally here. Your brand-new baby has arrived. Now what? 

Breastfeeding is so important to you. You want to make sure you do everything you can to get it right. You are so excited to start breastfeeding your newborn. You may be nervous about it as well.

Be sure to take a moment to enjoy that special time when your little one has just arrived. Look into her eyes and welcome her. Feel the power of this moment. You will always remember it.

There are things about breastfeeding the first day that are important to do. Just as important, there are things you want to avoid doing.

woman Breastfeeding the First Day

When my first baby was born things didn’t go the way I had planned or expected. And it made me worry that I had made a mistake.

I wanted to do skin to skin, but I’d had a C-section. I didn’t even get to hold my baby until I was in the recovery room. By then, baby Nicholas was bundled up in a couple of blankets, and he was in his sleepy phase. 

I offered him my breast. He just kept right on snoozing. I remember worrying that if he didn’t breastfeed right away, he might never do it.

He eventually woke up and nursed before he went back to the nursery. We never did any 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. 

woman holding baby in hospital bed

I have learned so much in the 35 years since then. I want to share with you what I have learned about breastfeeding the first day.

These are the things that will make a difference when breastfeeding your baby in the first 24 hours. These are the things that will help you get breastfeeding off to a good start.

I also want you to know what not to worry about.

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

-Glenn Turner

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KNOW HOW BIRTH AFFECTS BREASTFEEDING

brand new baby breastfeeding after birth

Birth affects breastfeeding.

But you can’t always control what happens during labor and 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
  • Do skin to skin with your baby as soon as possible after he is born
  • Keep him skin to skin until he breastfeeds
  • Watch for signs that he is ready to feed
  • 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 fantastic 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.

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DO LOTS OF SKIN TO SKIN WITH YOUR BABY

mom and dad and new baby doing skin to skin

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
  • Encourages 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).

I absolutely love the NuRoo Babywearing Shirt. It keeps your baby close while freeing up your hands. This is one of those things that I wish I had thought of! I think every new mom needs one.

BREASTFEEDING NEWBORN TIPS

  • Watch for cues showing that your baby is interested in eating.
  • Babies often look for the breast when 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 HUMGER CUES

LEARN THE NEWBORN STAGES OF ALERTNESS

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!

This first nap can last from a couple of hours to the rest of his first 24 hours of life.

You, on the other hand, are probably riding an adrenaline wave. Don’t worry too much about trying to nap. Go ahead and bask in the awesomeness of what you just did.

MOTHER HOLDING BABY IN HOSPITAL

COLOSTRUM IS YOUR BABY’S FIRST MILK

A lot of moms think that they have no “milk” when their baby is firstborn.

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 tiny in the first few days. It is about the size of a cherry.

CHERRY

BEST BREASTFEEDING TECHNIQUES FOR YOUR NEWBORN

NEWBORN BREASTFEEDING POSITIONS

  • The best position is one that helps your baby get a deep latch.
  • It is a breastfeeding position that is comfortable for you.

This may be the cross-cradle hold, or football hold or even the side-lying position.

HOW TO LATCH YOUR BABY ON

  • Your baby is facing you.
  • His nose is opposite your nipple
  • When he opens wide, pull him in quickly and closely.

HOW TO TELL IF BABY IS LATCHED ON PROPERLY

  • 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 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.

GOOD LATCH VS BAD LATCH

GOOD LATCH VS BAD LATCH CHECKLIST

This is a picture of a baby that has a good latch.

Baby breastfeeding

This is a picture of a baby that is not positioned correctly. 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.

It doesn’t feel great for you and doesn’t feel good for your baby either.

baby breastfeeding

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EXPECT YOUR BABY TO BREASTFEED  ON THE FIRST DAY?

Have you heard that a baby should eat at least eight times in a 24 hour period? That may not happen on 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.

HOW MANY DIAPERS SHOULD YOU EXPECT YOUR BABY TO HAVE  ON THE FIRST DAY?

You might be surprised that we don’t expect your new baby to have a lot of diapers that first day.

You want at least one wet diaper and one dirty diaper by the time your baby is 24 hours old.

Sometimes a baby will pee when they are first born.

The first dirty diaper will be meconium. A newborn is born with meconium in their bowel. It is very dark green, lamost black. It is very sticky and not much fun to clean up.

NEWBORN WEIGHT THE FIRST DAY

A baby is usually weighed in the first few hours after birth.

Hospitals often do a daily weight at night. Your new baby will lose weight that first day. Babies generally lose weight until their mother’s milk comes in. Don’t worry, this is normal.

Related Post

How To Quit Obsessing About Breastfed Baby Weight and Growth Charts

WHAT TO DO WHEN A 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 think about eating before. After she is born, it make take her some time to figure 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 NEWBORN IS NOT INTERESTED IN FEEDING THE FIRST 24 HOURS

  • 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.

5 THINGS TO AVOID BABY’S FIRST DAY

1 – VISITORS

  • Don’t have a lot of visitors.
  • Don’t play “pass the baby.” This can cause over-stimulation.
  • Your baby may appear to be sleeping. Babies often “shut down “because the stimulation is too much for them.
grandparents with newborn

2 – SUPPLEMENTING WITH FORMULA WHEN NOT MEDICALLY NECESSARY

  • Most babies do fine if they don’t eat in the first day.
  • Newborns have glucose stores to get them through that first day.
  • Being fed formula from a bottle can make a baby want that fast flow. This can result in him being fussy at the breast.
  • Formula changes the pH  and  the bacterial colonization of a baby’s gut. 
  • If the nurse is concerned, she may decide to check his blood sugar.
  • If the blood sugar is in the normal range, then there is no need to supplement.
  • If the blood sugar is low, that is a medical reason that you should supplement.

3 – PACIFIERS

Avoid pacifiers in the first month of breastfeeding.

If your baby wants to suck, offer him your breast. 

baby crying when pacifier is offered

Related Post

Breastfed Babies and Pacifiers – Good, Bad or Necessary Evil?

4 – TRYING TOO LONG TO GET A SLEEPY BABY TO LATCH ON

  • 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.
  • You can express drops of your colostrum onto her lips and tongue.

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

5 – HAND MITTENS

A baby’s hands are a vital part of their feeding behaviors. She needs to be able to get to them.

A NEWBORN WITH hand mittens

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

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BREASTFEEDING YOUR NEWBORN THE FIRST DAY

The three essential things to remember about breastfeeding your newborn the first day:

  • 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.

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10 Comments

  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!

  2. First-time moms should take note of these suggestions. They are very important and will do good for the baby.

  3. How do you get a very involved family that you married into, to leave the hospital when you have the baby. With my first, they pretty much camped out.. I mean full fledged camped out sun up to sun down… packed a lunch and everything. I struggled so much with feeding my child and this didn’t help. Before I knew it we were getting discharged and we still didn’t have the breastfeeding down pat. I ended up solely pumping for my child. He’s happy and healthy at 9months old now but I just need to know for the future.

  4. This is a really good question! You can enlist the help of the nursing staff. They can tell your visitors that they need to leave for feeding sessions and so you can rest. Some hospitals have “quiet time” where there are no visitors other than dad or another designated support person. You can contact them ahead of time in case you don’t have a private moment to explain once you are in labor. I was always more than happy to tell visitors they had to leave so mom could concentrate on feeding and getting rest. Good luck!

  5. Thank you! My husband had issues with the idea of breastfeeding in public before we had our son, but pretty much AS SOON AS the kid was around, it became about meeting the baby’s needs rather than about what other people would think, and he came around immediately and is now one of my biggest advocates/encouragers when it comes to public breastfeeding.

    Thank you again for this – I shared both posts with my Mama group and I appreciate you putting into words what the rest of us are feeling!

  6. Thank you for reading! Awesome that your husband is supportive!

  7. I just learned the hospital I plan to birth at has a practice of taking babies to the nursery from 6-8pm. The said it was for vitals, charting, shift change, and security. Have you heard of this practice? Any tips for working around it?

  8. This is for their convenience. It is your baby and you have a right to refuse. Just tell them they need to do vitals and assessments at the bedside. You can include it in your breastfeeding plan (I include a template in my breastfeeding planner which is available in my shop). There is no more secure place for your baby to be than with you. They may ask you to sign something but know that Baby Friendly designated hospitals never do this. Good luck and let me know how they respond when you tell them you are going to keep your baby with you at all times.

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