Breastfeeding Your Baby:
What to Expect in the First Weeks
Breastfeeding is the best, most nurturing way of feeding your new baby – something special you can do for your child and you.
- Benefits of breastfeeding
- What to expect in the first weeks
- How to prevent sore breasts
- Returning to work or school
- Breastfeeding an older baby
- When you need to be away
How will you know if your baby is getting enough milk?
- Your super-healthy first milk doesn’t flow as heavily as your milk will later. Breastfeed often so your body knows to make more milk. Your breasts should feel fuller in 2-5 days.
- Breastfeed every 1 ½-3 hours, or 8-12 times in 24 hours, including some feedings at night. Wake your newborn if she sleeps longer than 3-5 hours between feedings, even at night.
- For the first 1-2 days baby’s messy diapers will be greenish black. Then they will be yellow and soft. By 3-4 days, your baby should have 3-5 messy diapers and 6-8 really wet diapers in 24 hours.
- You should hear or feel your baby swallowing. (It may take several minutes for baby to start.)
- Let your baby end the feeding. He or she will let go, fall asleep, and look very content when he or she is no longer hungry.
- Think your baby isn’t getting enough milk? Call your doctor or nurse.
Breastfeeding should be comfortable
If breastfeeding hurts, check your baby’s position. Ask for help.
- Bring your baby to your breast, so you don’t have to lean over. This helps avoid getting a sore back.
- You and the baby should be tummy to tummy.
- The baby’s mouth should open wide (like a big yawn), then bring baby to the breast.
- Support your breast with one hand, thumb on top and fingers below.
- Much of the dark area of the breast should be in the baby’s mouth.
- If the baby has only the end of the nipple, or breastfeeding hurts, break the suction by gently putting your finger in the side of your baby’s mouth. Then make sure baby’s mouth is open wide. (Sometimes brushing the end of your nipple against the baby’s lower lip or showing baby your wide-open mouth will help to get a wide-open mouth.) Try again.
- Listen or feel for swallowing, which will show that your baby is getting your milk.
- Breastmilk looks thinner and bluer than cow’s milk. It’s perfect for human babies.
- There may be a time of day – often afternoon or early evening – when your baby wants to feed more often. This is normal.
- Ask your doctor or nurse before taking any medicine – even aspirin or cold medicine. It might come through your breastmilk to your baby.
- You may be too busy to realize you are hungry or thirsty. Remember to eat and drink and sleep.
- Eat a healthy diet. Don’t worry about avoiding lots of foods. Just alcohol, caffeine, and anything that bothers your baby.
- Over time your breasts will feel less full. Don’t worry that you have “lost your milk.” Your breasts are adjusting to breastfeeding.
As your baby grows and learns, breastfeeding will get easier and change. Ask your health care provider about growth spurts, and about how you can return to work or school and still breastfeed.