During the first few days after birth, many babies want to breastfeed often and long, until the mother’s milk supply becomes more plentiful.
Frequent and unrestricted breastfeeding in the early days offers health benefits for both mother and baby.
-Provides the baby with the colostrum he needs
-Prevents painful engorgement in the mother
-Stimulates uterine contractions in the mother and lessens the chances of hemorrhage
-Prevents newborn jaundice
-Stimulates the mother’s milk to increase more quickly
Babies should nurse 8-12 times in a 24 hour period. Watch for your baby’s cues that he is hungry and don’t worry about the length of time since the last feeding. Most babies will fall into their own pattern of nursing. Some will space them evenly and some will nurse more often at certain times of the day and less at others. It is the overall amount in a 24 hour period that is important.
One or two wet diapers a day are normal for the exclusively breastfed baby during the first two days after birth. By day five, there should be 5-6 wet diapers per day.
The baby’s first bowel movement, meconium, is dark and tarry. After the first few days, bowel movements should be a “golden mustard” color with “seeds” in it. Their is usually no odor associated with the bowel movements of an exclusively breastfed baby.
When breastfeeding is going well, water or formula supplements are not needed. There are several reasons that supplements should be avoided.
-Supplements fill up the baby, making him less interested in breastfeeding
-Artificial nipples can weaken a baby’s suck or cause the baby to refuse the breast
-Supplements decrease the time at the breast which can lead to engorgement
-Supplements interfere with the establishment of the milk supply
Allow the baby to finish the first breast before offering the second.