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11 Things to Expect While Breast Feeding

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

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The truth is the first few days of breastfeeding can be tricky, and can take some work. If you’re planning on breastfeeding your newborn after delivery, we are here to give you the straight facts.
11 Things to Expect While Breast Feeding

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The truth is the first few days of breastfeeding can be tricky, and can take some work. If you’re planning on breastfeeding your newborn after delivery, we are here to give you the straight facts.


Here are 11 things you can expect from the first few days of breastfeeding:


The first attempt at breast feeding will be soon after delivery


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that new moms and babies should stay in skin-to-skin contact until after their first breastfeed.


Whenever possible, your baby will be put on your chest immediately after birth for skin-to-skin contact. Your care team will help you position baby for their first try at breastfeeding.


If you have any complications during delivery that prevent you from doing skin-to-skin right away, you’ll be able to snuggle your little one and breastfeed as soon as possible.


When your baby latches and suckles, it signals to your body and hormones that it’s time for your milk supply to switch to the "on" position.



Colostrum is the first breastmilk your body makes


This is a thick, concentrated, yellowish milk that is produced in small amounts, but has a ton of benefits for the baby, including protection against germs, and preventing low blood sugar.


You might be surprised to see how little colostrum you actually produce. But because it’s so densely caloric, it’s plenty for baby until your milk comes in.


Regularly suckling from the start will help stimulate your body to produce the next stage of milk within a few days.


Many hospitals and lactation consultants recommend manually expressing and collecting colostrum after breastfeeding sessions.


While it might feel like a lot of work to manually express milk after you’ve already fed your baby, it helps to ensure your little one is getting plenty of calories during their first few hours in the world.


Manual expression will help to stimulate your milk supply. Your nurses and lactation consultants will show you how to express and collect colostrum and, how to feed the extra to baby using a syringe.



Next stage of breast milk is Transitional Milk


Usually around the third- or fourth-day transitional milk starts to come in.


Colostrum and mature milk are mixed together, and resembles milk mixed with orange juice, and appears when your milk first "comes in."


It contains lower levels of immunoglobulins and protein than colostrum but has more lactose, fat and calories.



Finally Mature milk comes in


Arriving between day 10 and two weeks postpartum, mature milk is thin and white, though sometimes slightly bluish.


While it looks like watery skim milk, it’s packed with all the fat and other nutrients that growing babies need.



It will take some learning and practice


Both, you and the baby have some figuring out to do. The baby learns how to latch, while you are learning how to positioning while breastfeeding.


When beginning a breastfeeding session, encourage baby to open their mouth wide, and then aim your nipple toward the roof of mouth as they latch.


Make sure baby latches on to the nipple and some of the breast tissue, not just the nipple, to achieve a correct latch.


Before you’re discharged from the hospital, ask for a lactation consultant to stop in and watch you and your little one as you breastfeed.


They can ensure that baby is latching properly and give you suggestions on how to avoid or manage any tenderness that comes along with nursing.


When baby latches properly, it should feel like a tugging sensation, rather than a sharp pinching pain.



You might have to deal with Engorgement


When your milk production kicks into high gear, it’s common for your breasts to feel firm, full and tender, a condition known as engorgement.


Obtaining a deep latch, along frequent feeding, can help decrease or avoid severe engorgement.


If the areola are too firm for the baby to latch to, you can apply pressure with your fingertips around the base of the nipple and push in toward your chest wall for several minutes.


This will help push back some of the swelling away from the base of the nipple and allow your baby to latch deeper as well as allow the milk to flow easier.


Your milk supply and any engorgement issues will begin to level out as you and baby get into the swing of a breastfeeding routine.



Breast feeding can take a lot of effort


Babies typically breastfeed between 8-12 times a day, and feedings in the first few days can range anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.


While it’s great that your little one is getting lots of practice learning how to latch and nurse efficiently, some days might feel like you just can’t get a break to eat, shower or use the bathroom for that matter.


As baby grows and gets better at breastfeeding, the amount of time between feedings will get longer and longer.



The baby's weight will be tracked closely


To ensure your little one is getting plenty of calories from your breastmilk, the care team will weigh the baby several times in the first few weeks of birth.


If your little one is gaining weight as expected, it’s an excellent sign that they’re getting enough breastmilk.


If baby’s provider has any concerns about their weight, they will work with you to create a plan to help baby put on more weight.


Lactation consultants are a wonderful resource that can be utilize if you’re concerned that you’re not producing enough breastmilk or if you have any breastfeeding challenges.



Your breasts may feel full and leak


Over time, the leaking may slow down as your body gets used to breastfeeding.


If your breasts leak, you may find it helpful to put disposable or cloth pads in your bra.

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During the first few weeks of breastfeeding, your nipples may be sore or sensitive


If you have cracked or damaged nipple skin, or pain that is not improving over the first 1–2 weeks, talk to a lactation consultant or your doctor or nurse.



Pain while breastfeeding


Although your breasts and nipples may be tender or uncomfortable, once your baby is well-latched, breastfeeding should not be painful.


Sometimes pain can happen if you have an improper latch, a milk duct that is clogged with milk, a breast infection, or other issues.


If you have pain while breastfeeding, especially with a fever, talk with your doctor or nurse to figure out why.



Final thoughts


Even though breastfeeding can come with its challenges, it is still worth the effort. There are many benefits for both, the mother and baby. Once you get going you will be glad you did.


The best advice we can give is, don't give up. Know that at first it will take effort and it is ok if your milk does not come right away. If you keep trying it will come!




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Why follow Pregnancy Pillows 101's advice?

We gather this information from personal experience. We have researched and had personal input from close family and friends that have experience this wonderful time in their lives, and hope to help new moms with the most common concerns and questions.


Disclaimer

The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider regarding a medical condition.





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