After giving birth, I’m sure you are soaking in every minute with your beautiful new baby. But it is normal to have questions about what comes next especially when it comes to feeding your baby. Breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful way to provide your newborn with the ideal nutrients to help them get off to the best start possible! The World Health Organization is actively promoting breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children and is working to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months up to at least 50% by 2025. If you are pregnant or just gave birth and plan to breastfeed this is a great read for you! Here are some top post-birth questions with evidence-based feedback:
When will my milk come in?
It may be hard to believe, but your breasts will begin producing small amounts of nutrient-rich milk called colostrum during the first trimester of your pregnancy and for 2-5 days after giving birth. Colostrum, also known as, pre-milk has many benefits, including nutrients that boost a baby’s immune system and help fight infection (Richardson & Littleton, 2019). Colostrum may not always look the same. For some, colostrum is thick and yellowish. For others, it is thin and watery. In the last 3-5 days of making colostrum, your milk supply is expected to increase. Signs that your milk supply is increasing and changing from colostrum to more mature milk include firm breasts and changes in your breast milk’s color and texture.
When should I begin breastfeeding?
It is best to begin breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, known as the magic hour, or as soon as you and your baby are able. According to the World Health Organization, bonding through skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast stimulates the mother’s production of breastmilk, including colostrum, also called the baby’s ‘first vaccine’, which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.
Did you know term infants have natural instincts to find the nipple and latch on? Skin-to-skin contact helps to regulate the baby’s body temperature and helps to release hormones in the mother that assist with breastfeeding.
First, it is recommended to bring your baby to your chest for skin-to-skin contact and then try to initiate breastfeeding in a quiet and calm environment.
If you and the baby are having trouble, try hand expressing or pumping as soon as possible and feed the baby with a spoon or syringe. Avoid bottles and pacifiers until breastfeeding is going well, and use your pump to help bring in a milk supply if the baby is not latching.
How can I tell when my baby is ready to nurse?
Start breastfeeding when your newborn shows signs of hunger. An infant may not always display obvious signs of hunger; because of this, it is best to look for early hunger cues (Richardson & Littleton, 2019).
Feed your baby at early feeding cues. Examples of early hunger cues:
-Baby moves head from side to side
-Baby opens their mouth
-Baby sticks out tongue
-Baby sucks on their hands and fists
-Baby puckers their lips as if to suck
-Baby nuzzles against mom’s breasts
-Baby displays the rooting reflex, which is when a baby moves their mouth in the direction of something that’s stroking or touching their cheek
– REM (rapid eye movement)
How do I know if my baby is full and/or getting enough milk?
What is important to understand is that the newborn belly is super tiny. The first few days after birth, the belly will only hold droplets of colostrum. Then as time goes on, the infant’s belly will grow. Infants will also want to nurse frequently! Your baby should have 6 wet diapers and 3 stools (size of a quarter of more) per day. At a minimum, your baby should nurse 8 to 12 times per day. Maybe even more. The World Health Organization recommends feeding your infant demand, meaning as often as the child wants, day or night! So, if someone tells you your breast milk might not be filling up your newborn’s little belly or that you are feeding too often, help them understand that frequent feeding, on the baby’s schedule, is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Do you need breastfeeding help? Spectra Baby USA is happy to help! Schedule a virtual consultation with one of our IBCLCs today and get the support you need to meet your breastfeeding goals successfully! We’re here for you, and we support you!