- Sep 21, 2023
The most important piece of advice: Be easy on yourself.
Though breastfeeding can be a beautiful experience for many, it isn’t always easy. As you hold your newborn for the first time after enduring one of the most physically and emotionally demanding feats of motherhood, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions: from joy and elation to stress and anxiety. These feelings can be compounded during the first two weeks of your baby’s life, which are the most challenging and important for establishing milk supply — especially for first-time mothers.
The basic rules
- On days one and two, recover from birth and learn how to properly latch, feed and understand your baby’s hunger cues.
- On days three and four, relieve breast engorgement from increased milk production by breastfeeding frequently. If your milk production is delayed, or if you notice your baby has increased jaundice or is losing weight, call your doctor.
- On day five, expect changes in your breasts and your infant’s bowel movements.
- On days six through 10, observe your baby’s growth, diaper output and eat-sleep-wake patterns.
- On days 11 through 14, prepare for an increase in breastfeeding due to your baby’s upcoming growth spurt. Prioritize your own sleep and nourishment.
- Above all, be flexible. All mothers and babies are different, so being able to modify your breastfeeding plan while keeping everyone healthy is more important than following a rigid set of rules.
On day 1, recover from birth and focus on latch
As soon as you’re medically stable and aware after birth, your nurse will likely place your newborn on your chest for skin-to-skin time. This can help stabilize the baby´s breathing, body temperature and blood sugar levels; and set her up for her first breastfeeding. Babies are most alert during the first couple hours of life and will instinctively begin to try to suckle. While you’re doing skin-to-skin time, encourage your baby to search for and latch on to your nipple. Your first milk — or colostrum, which is thicker than breast milk — is typically all the nutrition your baby needs; and contains antibodies and other substances that protect her against gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. If she is struggling to reach your breast, help her. It’s more comfortable to bring your baby to your breast and not your breast to your baby.
Your baby will likely be sleepy as she recovers from birth, so try to keep her close so you can learn her early hunger cues. These can include turning her head to the side, rooting, mouth movements and sucking on her hands. Crying is a late sign of hunger. Gentle stimulation, such as diaper changing or rubbing your baby’s feet or back, can help rouse her for breastfeeding if she’s sleepy. Sometimes, hand expressing your colostrum and putting it in her mouth to taste will encourage her to latch for a feeding.
It’s normal for your breasts to feel tender during your first feed (that tenderness should subside after a few sucks); but if you feel pain and don’t hear her swallowing, her latch is incorrect. Get your latch checked often by a nurse or lactation consultant, if one is available, to ensure your baby is getting enough colostrum and to prevent nipple damage. How breastfeeding feels is more important than how it looks; you should feel a strong pulling sensation.
Experts recommend nursing your baby for at least 10 to 15 minutes per breast every two to three hours. This works out to eight to 12 feedings per day. If you need to delay your first breastfeed (if you or your baby are unstable after birth, for example) don’t worry. You’ll continue to produce colostrum until your full breast milk supply comes in (which typically happens two to three days after birth).
After a successful feed, your baby should produce at least one wet (urine) and one bowel movement in her diaper within 24 hours. The first bowel movement should look dark green and tarry.
On day 2, expect your baby to be hungry and to breastfeed frequently
Today, your baby is likely much more alert and hungry, and will want to nurse every two to three hours (which is normal and will help bring in your milk). Your baby should be content between nursing sessions. On day two, you will likely be discharged from the hospital. Your nurse will weigh your baby to determine how well she is feeding. Keep in mind that if she was born at term, she’ll lose weight in the three to four days after birth.
If your baby continues to lose excessive weight, your doctor might consider supplementing your baby´s diet with donor breast milk or formula until your breast milk volume is sufficient to meet your baby’s needs. If you’re concerned that temporarily giving your baby donor milk or formula will ruin your breastfeeding relationship, don’t be.
If your baby isn’t latching or nursing adequately, you may need to self-express or pump your breasts for colostrum and feed it to her with a syringe, tube, cup or slow flow bottle. Your nurse or lactation consultant can teach you how. This will be necessary until your baby can breastfeed on both breasts for 10 to 15 minutes per session.
Breastfeeding is a learned experience and each session will probably be different. Being flexible will provide relief from feeling pressured to do everything perfectly. It’s also important to take care of your own needs as you recover by resting, showering, eating and drinking, and relieving any pain you may have from delivery.
Learn more: Protecting Your Mental Wellbeing While Breastfeeding.
On days 3-4, keep monitoring your baby and milk supply
On day three, your breasts will begin to feel fuller and heavier and possibly start leaking as your milk comes in, though it could take six or more days after birth for your full milk production to start, especially if it’s your first baby or if you delivered via cesarean section. Delayed milk production typically has no bearing on your ability to have a full milk supply, but catching and managing it early and appropriately is important. If your full milk production is delayed, continue nursing every two to three hours and then supplement right after, until your milk comes in.
Because latching can be difficult when your breasts are full, try hand expressing or pumping some milk briefly to reduce their fullness and to help soften the nipple for easier latching. If breast engorgement interferes with your milk flow or let-down, apply cold packs to your breasts between feedings to reduce swelling and consult with your doctor or lactation consultant for additional help.
Between days 5 and 12, start settling into a more predictable breastfeeding routine
Because your baby is likely receiving more milk than she did before, you may notice a more regular pattern of nursing, sleeping and alert periods after your milk comes in. If your baby likes to suckle for comfort, you may find that she prefers to “cluster feed” at certain times of day, meaning she’ll nurse almost continuously for a few hours, rather than nursing only once every two to three hours.
Near the end of her two weeks, your baby will likely have a growth spurt and will want to nurse more often than normal, acting ravenously hungry. This can last for a few days until your baby meets his increased milk needs, and your milk supply will likely adjust to meet these increased demands.
Your breasts may not feel as full as they did during the first two weeks. This does not mean that you don’t have enough milk. If your baby seems satisfied after feedings and is gaining weight, she is getting enough.
Learn more: Help! Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
When to Worry
If your baby is not getting enough breastmilk, she will likely exhibit the following signs: nursing constantly and crying after most feedings; yellowing skin; not waking spontaneously or inability to stay awake for feeds; trouble latching or sustaining breastfeeding for at least 10 minutes at a time; fewer wet or dirty diapers than expected; or dry lips. If you notice any of these warning signs, contact your pediatrician or baby nurse.
If you have persistent nipple or breast pain or a fever, call your ob-gyn or midwife, as it may require medical treatment. A consultation with a lactation consultant can help resolve latching pain or any other breastfeeding concerns.
Using a Breast Pump
Pumping breast milk is one way to address breast milk supply issues. Some mothers use an electric breast milk expresser after each breastfeeding session to increase their supply. Pumping can also help build a freezer stash of milk if a person is concerned about low supply.
The benefits of using a breast pump range from convenience to significant health benefits for at-risk babies. In an ideal world, breastfeeding mums would always be available when a baby decides it’s time to eat—and go ahead and try to negotiate when feeding time is with a baby, we dare you. But if you find yourself wanting to breastfeed, and know that you have serious gaps in your day when you can’t, breast pumping my be the solution for you.
Introducing the Breastfeeding Starter Kit by Lola&Lykke
Feeling overwhelmed by everything that you need to know and to buy while breastfeeding? Lola&Lykke is here to help. Introducing the Breastfeeding Starter Kit: everything new mums need to successfully breastfeed, pump, feed, store, and travel. It’s all in the box!
The box contains our signature product, the award-winning Electric Breast Milk Pump, and all the accessories needed including milk bags, baby bottles, nursing pads and a handy cooler bag to keep milk fresh when out and about.
In addition to a handy breastfeeding guide, Lola&Lykke´s Breastfeeding Assistant app will soon support and guide all nursing mums out there. This is the first breastfeeding box to include all that is needed, making breastfeeding easy, effortless and enjoyable for all milk makin´ mamas!
The beautiful magnetic closure box includes:
- Smart Electric Breast Pump
- Breast Milk Storage Bags (+ Adapter)
- Nipple teat 2-pack, 3M+
- Nipple teat 2-pack, 6M+
- Silicone spare part set
- Baby bottle, 3M+
- Cooler bag to keep milk fresh when out and about
- Box of reusable Bamboo Nursing Pads
Lola&Lykke´s Electric Breastfeeding Pump has won Gold as Best Breast Pump at prestigious Mother&Baby Awards and MadeForMums Awards 2021 and 2022. Our unique milk bags make life with a newborn easy: by using a single pre-sterilized pouch to express, store, warm and feed, there’s no need to transfer milk at any stage, so you’ll never lose a precious drop!
If you’re as excited as we are about this game-changing kit for breastfeeding mums, the Breastfeeding Kit is available for order online NOW!
Shop Lola&Lykke Breastfeeding Essentials Kit
by Lola&Lykke Team
All PostsView All
- Motherhood Guides
- Sep 14, 2023