Day 1 – the first 24 hours
Breastfeeding Day 1
The first day of breastfeeding can feel overwhelming and confusing as you and your baby learn about each other. Try not to think ahead and focus only on the next 24 hours. Keep your baby close (skin to skin is preferable) and start learning their cues (see the section on Baby Cues – what your baby is saying to you).
Most often you will still be in the hospital so you will have the support of the staff. Use this time to ask questions and get confirmation that your latch is good. We will also help you with position and guide you to know what to look for.
What to expect wee and poo
During your baby’s first 24 hours, he might wet his nappy only once or twice (Fredregill 2004). This is because the colostrum you produce is highly digestible and perfect nutrition for your baby, so there’s not much left to eliminate.
How many feeds to expect
Over the next 24 hours, your baby will begin to increase their hunger so they are having eight to twelve feedings per 24 hours. Many babies will feed more frequently than this and it may seem as though your baby is insatiable.
This is because his stomach is so small it gets full very quickly and empties very quickly. Feeding frequently is also essential to build up your milk supply, so feed on demand rather than clock watching.
How long is each feed?
Most newborns require 10 to 45 minutes to complete a feeding (Murkoff. S).
Other things to remember
- Expect at least one or two wet nappies each day for the first 2-3 days after birth.
- It may be difficult to tell if a nappy is wet at this early stage, and it is normal to find pink crystal-like stains.
- If you are finding it difficult to judge if your baby’s nappy is wet, try putting a cotton ball in the nappy. When your baby urinates, the cotton ball will feel very wet.
- Continue to keep your baby close and just observing their facial expressions, movements and behavior.
- Start looking for cues like “rooting” – your baby instinctively turning his mouth towards your breast or anything else that is placed on or near his face.
The rooting reflex happens when the corner of a baby’s mouth touches the skin or nipple. You can also trigger the reflex by stroking or gently touching the corner of a baby’s mouth. A baby will then reflexively turn their head to follow and “root” in that direction. Watch this video to know what it looks like.
3 types of sucking
Just a reminder: Babies display three types of sucking patterns during a breastfeed. By recognising these and understanding what is occurring with each, you can decide if you want to allow your baby to comfort suck at your breast or take him off once he has finished actively feeding and provide for his sucking needs in another way. Give yourself a few days to differentiate between the different types of sucking – and also notice how they all feel different.
1. ‘Call up’ or stimulation sucking
Once your baby is properly attached to your breast he will suck quickly (around two sucks per second), but strongly. This triggers your milk ejection reflex (let-down), which may take a few seconds or up to a minute.
2. Nutritive sucking (active feeding)
As your milk lets-down, baby will begin to actively feed. His sucking rhythm decreases to a rate of around one suck per second. You will be able to see or hear him swallowing after every suck or two, initially. As milk is depleted from your breast he won’t swallow as frequently. This is normal. The longer into the feed the richer more calorie-dense your milk becomes.
3. Non-nutritive sucking (comfort or flutter sucking)
Non-nutritive sucking involves fast shallow sucks, two sucks per second. These are unlike the strong sucks baby does during ‘call-up’ and nutritive sucking. Baby’s sucking movement feels like a flutter or quiver. You will probably not see or hear any swallowing. Some milk transfer can still occur during comfort sucking, but this is generally minimal. Mothers often describe non-nutritive sucking as baby ‘using me like a dummy.’
Milk ejection (let-down
Milk ejection (let-down) occurs several times during a single breastfeed. Your baby may alternate back and forth between nutritive and comfort sucking depending on the milk flow rates before and after each let-down.
Once your baby’s hunger has been satisfied he will release your nipple and pull back from your breast or continue to comfort suck. Some babies will comfort suck until they fall deeply asleep and your nipple slips from their mouth. we also talked about cluster feeding: Cluster feeding is when babies bunch feeds close together at certain times of the day. Though they may leave a couple of hours between feeds most of the day, there will usually be a few hours of constant or close together feeds. Cluster feeding is most common in the evening, although may differ between babies.