Breastfeeding the First Week
Preparing to have a baby can be pretty overwhelming, but breastfeeding doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to get you through breastfeeding the first week, as well as focusing on some of the challenges and how to overcome them. Breastfeeding is basically a learning process for both mother and baby. The more you know what to expect, the better off you will be! The first week at home with your new baby can be stressful at times and you may feel like you don’t have a clue what to do next; here are some helpful tips to get you through!
The latch; how important is it?:
It’s all about the latch! It is very important to have a good latch while breastfeeding the first week and beyond. What is a good latch, you ask? A good latch is one that isn’t painful and doesn’t leave your nipple looking like a tube of lipstick. Some discomfort is normal in the beginning but should definitely subside once baby starts actively getting milk. The baby’s lips should be flanged out (kind of looks like a duck), their chin should be touching your breast and the nose up free, with more bottom breast in their mouth than top breast. If you cannot get the latch to feel good, or if you feel that the baby is not content after feedings then seeking the help of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) would be a great idea.
Symptoms of a poor latch; what to watch for:
*painful nursing/difficulty latching baby and staying latched
*having to wake baby for most feedings/baby falling asleep too much while feeding
*baby not satisfied/content after most feedings
*inadequate pee/poop diapers
*has not regained birth weight by 2 weeks
How to handle engorgement when milk “comes in”:
*to prevent engorgement, nurse often, keep baby actively nursing, latched well so they are efficiently transferring milk, and do not skip feedings
*apply heat for about 10 minutes before a feeding to help let down of milk
*gentle breast massage in circular motions
*hand expression to soften the areola and help allow baby to latch
*apply cold after session to reduce swelling and just because it feels good
How do I know the baby got enough?:
So the rule of thumb for the first 3 days is 1:1 pee/poop on day 1, 2:2 pee/poop on day 2, and you guessed it, 3:3 pee/poop on day 3. After the first couple of days you will want to keep track and should get about 6 pee diapers and about 3 poopy diapers. You should also be nursing a good 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. Here are some signs you can look for to help you know if baby is getting enough:
*hearing swallowing (after your milk has fully come in)
*latching baby is easy
*breasts are seemingly softer after your breastfeeding session
*seeing milk in your baby’s mouth
*baby is satisfied/content in between feedings
*the baby regains birthweight by 2 weeks/baby should then be gaining upwards of 4-7oz a week during first month
There will be growth spurts:
During a growth spurt your baby will want to breastfeed more often (maybe every hour) and may not be as satisfied/content as he was before. A growth spurt can last anywhere from 2-3 days or up to a week. Best advice to handle a growth spurt is by grabbing some snacks, water, your phone, and get nice and comfy on the couch or your bed and watch Netflix and nurse, nurse, nurse. This too shall pass. These are the most common growth spurts for your breastfed baby:
*at 7-10 days
*around 3 weeks (this one is a doozy!)
*around 6 weeks
Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! I hope that some of these tips were helpful and made your day a little easier. You are doing the best for your little one and you should be proud of yourself and what you’ve accomplished this far. Breastfeeding the first week can be challenging, but worth it!
Briana Violand, IBCLC
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