Breastfeeding your baby can be such a rewarding experience, and create a bond with your baby like you could never have imagined. Breastfeeding, like everything else that comes along with a child, however, can take a lot of patience. Try not to get too frustrated if things are going the way you thought they would, and please understand that every day will get better. The first 40 days of a breastfeeding journey can be very exhausting and frustrating for some Mothers.
It is very interesting to learn about the human body when you have a baby. Our bodies are absolutely incredible, and seem to know just what to do. When a baby is born, their stomach is just the size of a marble. This works perfectly with the small amount of colostrum that a Mother is able to breastfeed to her baby. Only 1-1.5 teaspoons of colostrum are needed to keep your baby satisfied. During the first 24 hours of your little one’s life, you will do a lot of skin to skin as he/she learns how to latch and breastfeed. This is the best place for baby to be as much as possible to make transitioning to this extrauterine life a little easier. This is a good time to download an app that can help you keep track of feeds and diaper changes.
On the second and third day baby may be just starting to get the hang of feeding. He may want to feed very frequently, often called cluster feeding. It is not uncommon for a baby at this stage to want to nurse every 30-60 minutes. His little belly is now the size of a walnut, and will hold ¾-1 ounce of colostrum. This innate desire to cluster feed is actually helping ramp up your milk supply, so I promise you, there is a purpose. Just plan for it, so you are not caught off guard wondering why you can’t sleep. Be sure to get naps in during the day and limit visitors. Continue doing frequent skin to skin when you’re not sleeping.
Around day 3-5 your mature milk should be starting to come in. You will begin to feel more full in your breasts. Your feeding pattern may be a bit more routine now with baby as you are learning their needs. Feedings should still occur 8-12 times in a 24 hour period, and baby should have 4-5 wet diapers per day now. You will want to continue skin to skin time, and keep track of diaper changes.
On days 6-7 you can start altering your routine to how you would like each day to be, based on what you’ve seen from your baby thus far. Continue to nap when baby naps, and if he is sleeping more during the day than at night, be sure to keep your home bright and loud during the day, and quiet and dark in the evening time. Your breasts may go through periods of engorgement to not feeling like you have any milk. This is totally normal, as your supply is not yet regulated based on baby’s needs.
On days 7-14 Baby should be back to his or her birth weight, or well on the way. It is normal for babies to lose up 10% of their birth weight, especially if they were born via cesarean. Baby should be having about 6-8 wet diapers daily, and you should feel like you are getting the hang of feedings much better than when you started. Baby’s belly is now the size of a ping pong ball, and can hold 1.5-2 ounces of breastmilk per feeding.
Remember that the only way to monitor baby’s intake of breastmilk is by weight gain, output (number of wet diapers), and the way baby reacts after feedings. If baby is calm and relaxed after feedings, having enough diaper changes daily (6-8 after one week of age), and is gaining weight during visits to the pediatrician, you have nothing to be concerned about. Your patience with breastfeeding will pay off, and you will have a happy and healthy Mama and baby.
If you feel like you are not adequately feeding your baby, or you have concerns about baby’s latch, be sure to get in contact with your local Lactation Consultant for a visit. I have a great video tutorial that you can take a look at, but if you still need help, be sure to see someone in person. Breastfeeding should not be a painful experience, and should create a moment for bonding and closeness with your baby. Know that a trained professional can help you achieve your breastfeeding goals, whatever they may be!
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Welcome! I’m Brittany. I’m a mom of two toddlers living in Northwest Ohio with my husband, Chris, and our two cats, Simon and Oliver. I’m a labor and delivery nurse, and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I love finding new ways that make parenting easier, while providing a fun learning atmosphere for my girls at the same time. In my blog you will find tips and tricks for dealing with pregnancy, labor, and parenthood. My favorite part about being a nurse (besides getting to welcome little miracles into the world, obviously) is being able to educate new Moms (and Dads) on how to care for their little ones at the very start. Parenthood is such a complex and exhausting journey that we need to have support from others who make us feel like we’re not alone. You are not alone here!