It is important to know that it can take time for you to get in the groove when it comes to feeding. This is a new experience for both you and your little one after all. During your stay at the hospital, you will have access to support in the form of midwives and breastfeeding classes – be sure to reach out at any time if you feel you need support in establishing feeding.
If all goes well during the birth process, your baby will be placed on you as soon as possible for some skin-to-skin time. Whilst they may not latch on straight away, your baby’s sucking instincts are at their strongest and they will spend the time nuzzling at your breast and trying to latch onto your nipple. The midwives will often wait for this to occur before measuring and weighing your baby. These early stages of feeding can also help with the delivery of your placenta.
Colostrum is the precursor for milk and has amazing properties for protecting and nourishing your baby in their first days of life. During the first few days before your milk comes in, your breasts wont feel very full and you may think that your baby isn’t getting enough! Be reassured that their stomachs are tiny and this ‘liquid gold’ is quite concentrated. As your breasts aren’t very full during this time, it makes establishing a latch much easier for your little one.
Establishing your milk
During the first few days, it is important to feed as frequently as possible to help your milk supply come in. Many babies will feed up to 12 times within 24 hours – which will mean that feeding will be ‘around the clock’.
Night two is generally the hardest and your baby may be awake a lot. This is perfectly normal newborn behaviour – they are helping you to produce milk! The more you feed, the sooner your milk will come in. Be reassured that this won’t last forever and once your milk is established, the time between feeds will extend.
It is important to spend the first few days getting to know your newborn and their cues for hunger. This can often look like wriggling around, sucking movements, hands to mouth or rapid eye movements. It is best not to wait until they are crying before feeding, as this is a late hunger cue and will make it harder to settle them for feeding.
*If you have a baby in special care or are separated from them following birth, the hospital grade pumps will help to stimulate and maintain your milk supply.