Breastfeeding your baby - The First Week Explained
When you first have your baby it’s not uncommon to feel like there was soo much hype around the birth (which is often over within 1-2 days, sometimes quicker if you are lucky) and not a lot of chat about breastfeeding. The first week can feel quite overwhelming and you can feel like you are not prepared for this part of your journey.
Here is some information so you can feel a bit more prepared and go into this part of your journey eyes wide open.
What to expect:
1. Ideally your baby will have had her first feed within the first hour of birth.
2. Many babies are pretty sleepy for the first day so take the opportunity to get as
much sleep as much as you can between feeds as they will become more
frequent as the days continue.
3. You will be encouraged to demand feed, which means to breastfeed whenever
bub wakes up. When on the breast, they will be drinking very low volumes of
colostrum, a sticky, yellow milk which is very rich in antibodies. If your baby is
early or jaundiced, sometimes you maybe encouraged you to wake baby if she
isn’t waking often enough.
4. Make sure you get help with getting a deep latch each time to avoid getting sore nipples.
5. By the second day, you may notice bub feeding more often, anywhere from 2-4
6. The second night is usually when babies start cluster feeding, and demanding
the breast more and more. This is a VERY tiring night, so keep telling yourself
that your baby is bringing your milk in, and being demanding is a good thing.
7. Each time your baby is on the breast, watch out for swallowing. This is
characterised by a pause in the chin and the more frequent the swallows, the
closer you are to the colostrum transitioning into breastmilk, which is thinner in
consistency and higher in volume.
Top tip: Ask your midwife/LC for help to achieve a deep attachment each time, don’t try to fumble through on your own
Day 2-3 is an exciting time as your milk will ‘come in’ anywhere from about 72 hours
onwards. You’ll notice more frequent swallowing (a 1:1 or 1:2 suck/swallow ratio) and
bub’s poo will change from black to brown to yellow. Nappies will be heavier and
although all breastfed babies lose weight at first (which is normal), once the milk
appears, they will start to gain. You’ll also notice bub settling easier after a feed,
although don’t forget to allow lots of ‘upright’ time on your chest or shoulder after the
feed to allow bub to digest the higher volume of milk.
Normal weight loss is between 5-7% for a breastfed baby around day 3-5. If your baby has lost more than this seek help from your LMC/LC/GP.
Now that you know what is NORMAL, here are a few things to look out for. Bear in mind your role is to just be “mum” and your LMC will watch out for this stuff but just so you are informed of when things may not be going to plan!
● Urine- less than 6-8 wet nappies in 24hrs
● Stools - fewer than 2 in 24 hrs
● Jaundice - worsening or not improving
● Lethargic baby
● Not waking for feeds
● Poor tone
● Weight loss greater than 10%
● Fewer than 8 feeds in 24 hrs
● Baby comes on and off the breast frequently during the feed or refuses to
● No change in sucking pattern or noisy feeding eg clicking
● Baby consistently feeds for less than 5 minutes or longer than 40 minutes
● Baby does not release breast spontaneously
● Baby unsettled after feeding
● Mishapen or pinched nipples at the end of feeds
● Nipples sore or damaged, engorgement or mastitis
If you said yes to any of these things above it would be worth seeing a LC.