First Few Days
So, you have prepared and educated yourself for this day. Your bundle of joy is finally here, and you have questions.
The first few days with your baby can be a little nerve wrecking. Nurses and doctors continuously come into your room and ask; Did your baby feed? How long? What time?
You can barely remember if YOU ate, let alone remember how long did your baby feed. Although, in breastfeeding, we want the mother to look at the baby and not the clock; time and length of a feeding during a hospital stay are important to the health professional because they are monitoring your baby’s intakes and outputs (soil diapers). Bear with them for just a bit.
Your baby should feed every 1-2 hours. AY! Sounds like a lot? Don’t be scared. Colostrum (liquid goal) is very thick and comes in small quantities; which is par with your baby’s tiny tummy. The little amount of milk your baby will consume will be digested rather quickly; frequent feeding is normal and important.
Expect for your baby to drink about 5-7 ML at each feeding which is about less than 1 ounce. Notice: formula given to newborns come in 2-ounce bottles; which is WAYYYY more than what your baby can handle. You should aim to feed six times during the day and two times at night (as a minimum). Because your baby has a tiny [growing] tummy, she or he will probably feed more than the suggested eight times in 24 hours (8-or-more-in-24 is the slogan to remember). Frequent feeding may subside once your milk transitions by day 4.
By the time you leave the hospital, your baby’s tummy will have grown to the size of a walnut which is equal to 1 ounce. During this period your baby is feeding at a rhythm (not yet stable), and its stool should have transitioned from black to yellow.
Keep in mind that, at the breast, the baby consumes this ounce in a slow, steady flow. Oppose to the bottle; the flow is much faster motivating the baby to drink more than it needs.
If bottle feeding is a must during this time; try the Paced Bottle Feeding method to ensure your baby is not overfeeding.
Ok, so we got the food part out of the way. Remember aim to feed your baby 8 or more times in 24 hours.
Now let’s talk diapers!
One of the best ways to tell if your baby is having an “intake” is to check the “output.” If your baby is drinking off your breast, then she/he would have a wet or dirty diaper. If your baby pooped during birth, it might take some time for the next stool to occur.
Call a Lactation Professional if you have any concern with your baby’s diaper count.
Once your beautiful baby is in your arms, expect one dirty and one wet diaper for its first day of life.
Let’s go over what to expect the first few days.
Day 1: One wet and one dirty diaper. Note: it is a little tricky to clean the black colored stool. Start with a few warm gauze pads and gently wipe the baby's bum from the frontal area towards the back area; away from the penis or vagina.
Day 2: Two wet and two dirty diapers. Stool transitions into a greenish color; however, the first stool of the day may be just a tad brown. The second stool of the day should be greenish. This stool is a bit easier to clean.
Day 3: Your baby should now have at least three yellow stools (it may be more, and that is ok). The color may transition with each soiled diaper until it changes to yellow. Do expect to see some white specks in your baby’s stool. Some people refer to this as white-seeds. The white specks in your newborn’s stool are the excretion of your breastmilk's fat.
Day 4: Expect to see four wet and four dirty diapers from here on out. The stool color should remain yellow from this point forward. Contact your Lactation Professional if it regresses to green or there is something else in the stool.
Note: There will be times your baby will not have a dirty diaper, and that is ok. Human milk acts as a laxative so your baby would not be constipated by consuming your milk. Babies can go a few days without a dirty diaper without a problem. If you find your baby is fussy, uncomfortable, irritable, or simply “not ok” contact your Pediatrician and Lactation Professional for support.
Birth weight, Discharge Weight, and First Doctor’s Visit Weight: What does this mean?
If your birth was long, chances are you received many bags of IV fluid to keep you hydrated during labor. Your baby will also be impacted by the high amount of liquid; reflecting in high birth weight. Within a few days, your baby will eliminate the excess fluid during urination. Before discharging you from the hospital, your baby will be weighed again. Babies are expected to lose up to 10% of its birth weight and are projected to regain by the time they are ten days old; that is usually the same time when you are required to take your baby to the Pediatrician.
During this time your emotions may have gone up and down like a roller coaster. Don’t doubt in your ability to produce enough for your baby. Frequent feedings are normal; remember your baby’s food is a liquid which is easily (and softly) digested. Opposed to formula, it required a baby’s organ to work hard to digest; reasons why it takes longer to be ready for the next feeding.
You may experience some nipple soreness; due to the frequency of your nipple being extended. You may need to adjust your baby’s latch a few times at each feeding before getting a good (feel-good) latch. Remember you and your baby are learning together. What you should NOT feel is a pinching, burning sensation. Pinching usually means your baby is suckling mostly on the tip of your nipple; which no milk will come out. Remember to unlatch your baby and try again; don’t compromise with pain. If your pain is lasting throughout the entire feeding; contact your Lactation Professional or your local WIC office Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for assistance.
Visit our Resource tab for breastfeeding resources.
SLEEP: What’s that?
Your baby’s sleep cycle correlates with its hunger cycle. When it’s time to feed it’s time to get up. That is the beauty of breastfeeding; your baby is in control at all times. There may be times (due to many reasons) that your baby needs to be woken up for a feeding, but for most of the time, your baby will wake on its own.
Your baby will give your subtle signs that she /he is hungry. Crying is the last sign your baby will give you; by then your baby needs to be calmed and comforted before the breast is offered.
During pregnancy, your baby slept most of the day as you walked and moved around. For your baby, this was like being rocked in a hammock. At night, or as you laid down, you will notice your baby began to move. It will be a few weeks before your baby understands the concept of night and day. Prepare ahead for those late-night feedings. You can have someone stay up with you to keep you company and help with keeping you awake. Once you are done feeding your baby, it is recommended you return the baby to its bassinet. You can keep it close to your bed to avoid getting up from your bed.
It is recommended for moms to take naps during the day; along with the baby. This will help mom and baby stay on the same sleep cycle. It will also contribute to keeping you awake during the night. Remember you are recovering from a major life event; BIRTH! Especially for moms who delivered via Cesarean Section. I know… I know… you are SUPERMOM, and SUPER MOM may have other children and housework to take care of. Indeed, you are the BEST SUPER MOM; however, your SUPER BABY needs you as well. If you cannot nap every time your baby naps, try to take small breaks in between. Ask for help if it’s available; friends and family at times want to help but are not sure how to offer their assistance.
Many organizations provide at-home lactation support, or you can locate your nearest lactation clinic for further help and support. Don't forget to allocate your closest Breastfeeding Support Groups. Getting together with other parents can help adjust to parenthood, and also provide you with an excuse to leave the house. As well as, provide an opportunity for your other children to have a play date.