Timeline: Breastfeeding In The Early Days

Timeline: Breastfeeding In The Early Days


Breastfeeding is essential for the baby, as the mother’s milk contains all the important nutrients, vitamins as well the immunity factors that the baby needs in the first six months of life.

Breastfeeding The New-born In the First 24 Hours

The full-term baby would generally be hungry and ready for the first feed within the first half hour to two hours after birth. In the first 24 hours, the mother will not produce a large quantity of milk but it is sufficient for the newborn’s stomach. The first secretion from the mammary glands is called the colostrum and is rich in antibodies that are beneficial for the newborn’s immune system.

After the first feed, the baby usually sleeps for some time and doesn’t seem to be hungry or bothered with feeding. But it is best to feed the baby several times, every 2-3 hours. During feeding, switch between breasts every 15 minutes to arouse the baby from sleep.

The First Week

After the first 24 hours, the baby should be awake and readily asking for milk. Though in the initial days, don’t expect the baby to be completely at ease during suckling. The baby will take time to get a grip on the breastfeeding and this will require patience from the mother too!

Expected Number Of Feeds For The Baby

It is expected that the baby will require feed after every 1.5 to 3 hours for a total of 8 to 12 breastfeedings over 24 hours. The baby generally suckles for at least 10 minutes and may continue for about 30 minutes on the first breast before letting go without any help from the mother.

When the baby finishes on the first breast, it is best to help the baby burp and change the diaper before starting the feed from the second breast.

With time, the lactation increases, and by the 5th day, the breasts will feel fuller and may even become engorged. The engorgement will make the nipples appear flat and this is a sign of switching from colostrum to mature milk.

Mothers usually feel a tingling or ‘pins and needles’ sensation during breastfeeding or even uterine contractions and cramping. Don’t worry. This is normal and a good sign of ‘milk let-down’ a reflex that the mother’s milk is ready to be pushed out from the nipples.

Why Is The Baby Losing Weight?

It is normal for babies to lose 7% to 10% of the birth weight during the first week of life. That’s because babies are born with extra fluid, which is naturally drained from the body. After the first week, the baby starts to regain his lost weight.

Too Many Wet Diapers And Changes In Stool Colour?

The number of wet nappies will increase compared to that in the first 24 hours after birth. One heavy wet diaper is expected on day 1; 2 wet diapers on the second day and gradually this regime will increase to at least 5 wet diapers every 24 hours;  and if the colour of the urine is pale yellow, it’s a good sign that the young one is getting adequate milk.

The colour of stool also changes from dark, sticky stool on the first day to a lighter colour and it’s runnier the next day. By the fifth day, when the baby’s body has adapted to the milk, it may even turn mustard in color!

The Second Week And Onwards

In the first 2 weeks, the milk appears to have a yellowish tint, and this is because of the colostrum.

With passing days, the engorgement subsides, and it is normal for moms to worry. But if your baby is content after being nursed and has the correct number of wet/soiled diapers, then you can relax.

The number and time for breastfeeding can vary from baby to baby. Hence, it is advisable not to make the baby wait very long between each breastfeed or set a particular time for breastfeeding as this can affect the baby’s weight.

Foods To Avoid During Breastfeeding

The baby completely relies on the nutrients from the mother. Keeping in mind that the baby’s stomach is delicate, it is best to consume light food. Avoid spicy food and have a nutritious diet.

The water intake should be increased by an extra litre of water per day. This has nothing to do with the increase in lactation (a common myth). It is just that the mother tends to get thirstier during breastfeeding, so she should drink enough water to quench her thirst.

How To Breastfeed The Baby?

As we told you before, don’t expect the baby to know to suckle by birth; it takes time and patience. Initially, breastfeeding can cause soreness of the nipples or even occasional pain. But once you know the correct way, it is bound to create warmth and affection between the mother and the baby.

During breastfeeding, it is best for the mother to hold the baby in such a manner that the baby’s chest is close to her chest. The mother should initially support the breast by the hand and bring the nipple closer to the baby’s upper lip so that the baby opens his or her mouth.

Once the baby takes a mouthful of the nipple and the areola (the dark area around the nipple) and begins to suck by drawing out the milk, it is said that a good latch is created. With time and a good latch, the soreness of the nipples also minimises and the little one gets all the required nourishment and warmth.