BREASTFEEDING AFTER BIRTH: THE SECOND DAY/ UP UNTIL DISCHARGE DAY
As mentioned before, his little stomach is going to begin to stretch, and as it does so, his feedings will begin to get longer, and longer, and closer together. Please remind yourself…”this is his job….this is his job…” Again, this is totally supply and demand…..he demands…you supply.
Along the way, you also need to remember that “you have to have it to give it.” This is where you need to take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating and drinking. Especially drinking!
There are several things along the way that you will notice that will let you know that he is doing his job well:
- With a comfortable latch, you will notice long…slow…smooth….consistent sucks…stop and breathe….repeat
- You may hear audible swallows! This one is seldom noted in the first day as it only actually happens about every third or fourth time he stops to breathe.
- You will feel extra cramping! The same hormone that lets in your milk, makes you cramp! (Not much of a favor, I know…but your uterus goes down to pre-pregnant size in about 7-10 days)
- You will start….to…feel….so…..sleepy….. That same hormone, also drops your blood pressure and makes you feel…..so….relaxed….. (This is why it’s important to feel that your baby is so well supported. If you relax your arm/hand, you want to make sure your baby doesn’t take your nipple with him as he follows your arm/hand down to the support!)
Ultimately, babies have only 3 basic needs at this time. They are:
- Change me
- Feed me
- Love me
So if your baby is crying:
- Check a diaper! Who wants to eat if you’re squishy?
- Offer the breast. It’s Never wrong to offer the breast. He won’t always take it, and he may only take it for 5 minutes….but you eat snacks too! ALWAYS offer the breast!
- Love on and snuggle with your baby – SKIN TO SKIN! You are your baby’s “home.” He knows your heartbeat rhythm, your voice, your smell….you are the only thing he truly Knows. Enjoy this time…it flies so fast.
To recap: Babies need to eat 8-12 times per day (averaging 20 minutes of nutritive sucking per feeding), which ends up being about every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 at night (sometimes babies have their little clocks reversed, but they get it right eventually.) Breastfeeding should be comfortable – not just the latch, but you should feel physically supported.
The above (and previously linked posts) really is what I have told countless women while standing at their bedside holding their hand and guiding them into their breastfeeding journey. It’s a lot. I know that. But I also know, that I went into their rooms many times that day, and multiple days in a row to tell them over, and over. Eventually, I figure they retained about HALF of what I told them. Then there was our clinic time – where I told them again.
Now I’ve only addressed what I consider an “uncomplicated” start to breastfeeding. The baby was term. Neither mom nor baby had a medical/physical condition that would impede breastfeeding. Mom had adequate emotional support from a partner or family member to assist them these first few days.
There are SO many factors that can affect breastfeeding. I will address them in time, but the above information covers the core concepts that I always come back to.
For reinforcement, see the following previous posts:
***For the purposes of this instruction, the baby will always be “he” and the mother will be “you” or “her”
***Also, these first articles will address only WELL, TERM Newborns (i.e. those babies born without complication and after 37 weeks of gestation in a hospital setting) and a mother WITHOUT medical complications
****The information I need to tell you regarding the first 2-3 hours after your baby is born is Very extensive. Therefore, I will be breaking it down into much smaller chucks so you can digest it more easily. Please read all of the sections as they all go together to support your success in the first moments after your baby’s birth.