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Breastfeeding in the First Hours of Life
Hours One and Two
- Put baby skin-to-skin after birth. Baby will lick, nuzzle and within the hour latch and nurse
- Skin-to-skin contact helps babies transition to being outside the mother
What is Colostrum?
Colostrum is the milk in your breasts the first few days after birth. Your baby will consume small amounts of colostrum—from a teaspoon to a tablespoon per feed. This is enough for your baby until your milk comes in. For his first few days, your baby's stomach is the size of a large marble.
- Protects baby from infection
- Clears meconium, baby's first bowel movement
- Satisfies baby's hunger, thirst and need for touch
- Protects and matures baby's stomach and intestines
Getting to Know Your Baby: Rooming-In
After the first 1-2 hours of life your baby will have a recovery sleep of 4-6 hours. After this sleep, your baby should start to feed at least 8 times every 24 hours.
It will be easier to feed frequently if your baby is in your room. Keep your baby in your room as much as possible so you will be able to learn your baby's hunger cues--crying is a late sign of hunger.
At first, babies often feed more at night than during the day, so nap during the day while your baby sleeps. Having your baby in your room will make night time feeding easier.
Feeding during the night will help bring your milk in sooner, and frequently emptying your breasts is what makes more milk, not waiting until they fill up.
Formula and Water
Supplement with formula or water only if there is a medical need. In the first few weeks of nursing, supplements can prevent the body from knowing how much milk to make, and can decrease your milk supply.
Breastfeeding Your Baby: Position of Mom and Baby
- Sit in a comfortable position
- Place baby's head in bend of elbow
- Hold baby at level of breast with face and body facing you, feet pulled close to your side
- Tickle baby's lower lip and wait for a wide, open mouth. Then pull your baby close to your breast. Your baby's cheeks and chin should be against your breast
For the Correct Latch:
- Your baby has as much areola as possible, usually more of bottom than top
- You can feel the baby pulling the breast into her mouth
- You can see the baby's jaw moving up and down
- You can hear the baby swallow
- The correct latch position does not hurt
When to Feed and Length of Feeding
- Feed your baby when he is hungry
- By the third day your baby's stomach is now not much bigger than her fist. She needs to feed frequently to get enough milk to grow -- a minimum of 8 times in 24 hours
- A baby can feed as few as 8 times or as many as 14 times in 24 hours
Length of a Feeding
Feeding length can vary from feeding to feeding. The length of a feeding is different for each baby. Some babies feed for 8-10 minutes per feeding, and some nurse for 30-40 minutes per feeding. Feed until your baby lets you know she's done.