After waiting so long, the baby is finally born. You look into his eyes, you are overflowing with happiness and you ask yourself, what now? If you have chosen to feed your baby with your milk, the best option from a nutritional, immunological and emotional point of view, we tell you how to start breastfeeding .
It is likely that at that time you will have the help of the midwife or another professional specialized in breastfeeding who will explain the first steps, but the more prepared you are the better, so we will tell you everything you need to know about the first feeds to start with good foot your breastfeeding .
The first hour after childbirth, essential
The first hour after childbirth is essential to establish the foundations for successful breastfeeding. After delivery, the baby is extremely receptive to your skin, to your smell, there is an importance between the two, therefore it is recommended to put it to the breast immediately after birth , even before the expulsion of the placenta. This will help ensure that breastfeeding can be established without problems and favor emotional interaction with your baby.
His instinct at this time is so strong that if the baby is placed on the mother’s womb, he is guided by the scent to crawl to the breast to begin sucking. This phenomenon is known as Breast Crawl.
What happens in the first hours after delivery
baby’s first shot
Either during childbirth (better) or as soon as the mother feels fit, it will be time for the first feed. You will be calm in the room and it’s time to put the baby to the breast. Will it hurt? How will the feeling be? Will I have enough milk? are some of the most common concerns.
To start, you have to adopt a position that is comfortable for both of you. At first opt for the traditional position and then you will go looking for new positions. The mother has to be seated, or if you feel pain after delivery, semi-lying down, with her back well supported and supporting the baby with her forearm. If you prefer, you can place a pillow, a cushion or a nursing pillow under the arm will be very useful.
There should be no clothing that interferes between the breast and the baby’s mouth. The more skin-to-skin contact there is, the better. Once you have achieved the position that is most comfortable for you, something extremely important comes: the baby’s attachment to the chest . A poor latch can cause problems such as pain, cracks, the baby receiving little milk, etc…
How should the baby attach to the breast?
The baby’s mouth should cover all or most of the breast areola and the nipple should be completely inside the baby’s mouth , on the soft palate at the top of the mouth. To make it clearer, the nipple should not be on the baby’s lips but all inside the mouth. The milk comes out through the nipple but thanks to the suction that the baby makes from the breast.
The baby’s sucking reflex will send the order to the mother’s brain to produce prolactin, a hormone responsible for milk production.
If the baby doesn’t latch on right away, don’t get overwhelmed, keep trying. Some do it right away and others take a little longer. To help him, let him in contact with your bare chest most of the time, close to your scent and your warmth. Most babies take their first feed within two hours of delivery .
At first there will be no milk coming out, the first thing your baby will receive will be colostrum . Colostrum, a watery, yellowish substance made up of immunoglobulins, water, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, provides the newborn with everything it needs.
The first 12 hours
After delivery, the first check-up and the first feed, the baby feels exhausted and will most likely sleep for a few hours. The healthy newborn is capable of self-regulating its intake, so it is not necessary to wake it up to give it a second feeding.
Keep your baby in your room and close to you to be aware of any signs and be able to offer the breast as soon as he wakes up.
Take advantage of these hours to rest and recover from childbirth. Visitors can wait, and by the way, speaking of visitors, don’t be overwhelmed by advice on how to feed or take care of your baby. Trust your instinct and connection with your baby. You will know how to do it .
The first 24 hours
After a few hours of rest, the baby will wake up wanting to suckle. Keep him with free access to the chest and offer him whenever he wants, without schedules, on demand . Over time you will recognize the baby’s gestures that indicate that he wants to breastfeed: he puts his hands in his mouth, makes the sucking movement or opens his mouth looking for the breast. Do not wait for him to cry, as soon as you notice these signs put him to the chest.
There is also no time for each shot, you do not have to keep an eye on the clock. The newborn can take between 8 and 12 feedings a day (this is approximately one feeding every 2-3 hours) and will take the amount that is needed. When one chest empties, place it in the other. It is very important that you take into account the importance that the longer the baby is at the breast, the more he will suck and the more milk production will be activated .
The first 48 hours
If you have had your baby in the hospital, surely this day you will go home. Between 30 and 72 hours after delivery, the milk rise occurs. In first-time mothers it usually occurs later, while in multiparous women, earlier.
Depending on how breastfeeding has been established from the first hours after delivery, the rise in milk will be more or less problematic. If you put the baby to the breast as soon as it is born and suck on demand several times a day, the process of raising it will be less uncomfortable and painful . If it has been very gradual, it may not even be noticeable.
Do you have to wake the baby to breastfeed?
Some babies are very sleepy for the first few days of life; it is advisable to put them skin to skin to stimulate them and allow them quick access to the breast.
The Breastfeeding Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics states that in some of these cases it may be necessary to try to wake them up to feed (undressing them or giving them a gentle massage on the soles of their feet). Glover, in his article, recommends doing it if it has been between 3 and 5 hours since the previous shot. If a baby is excessively sleepy, it should be evaluated by a pediatrician.
After these first days of life, when breastfeeding is already well established, it is a healthy full-term baby who gains weight and demands his feeds, there is no need to wake them up to eat. They will wake up and claim food when they need it.
Once at home…
Once you are home, keep the same recommendations: offer the breast on demand, always check that the latch is correct and try to empty one breast before offering the other to avoid engorgement or breast engorgement.
If you have any questions, pain or problems when breastfeeding, seek the help of a lactation consultant in your area. They are qualified professionals prepared to advise mothers during this stage.
I hope these tips will help you successfully start breastfeeding once the baby is born . The first moments can be disconcerting, so knowing in advance how to act will make you feel more confident in the power you have to feed your baby.