What To Expect The First Few Weeks

Breastfeed your baby often, about every 2 to 3 hours. Aim for 8-12 feedings in 24 hours. Offer both breasts per feed. This helps milk supply get off to a good start. 

Plenty of skin to skin contact can help establish good breastfeeding. Provide plenty of safe, skin-to-skin contact with baby as often as able.  

Babies may lose up to up to 10% of their birth weight by discharge from the hospital. They should regain their birth weight by 7-14 days. Once milk supply increases, baby should start gaining ½ to 1 oz. per day.

1 wet diaper per day of life, increasing to 6-8 wet diapers after day 5. Meconium, (dark, tarry stools) on days 1 and 2, changing to loose brownish green by day 3-4, then to loose yellow/seedy by day 4-5. Some infants pass a lot of meconium while in the hospital and may take a break from stooling for the first 24 hours. Expect at least 2 to 4 dirty diapers per day; some stool every time they are breastfed. Babies will develop their own stooling patterns beginning around 6 weeks. 

Breasts typically become very full as milk volume increases, anywhere from day 3 to 5. Breasts can become engorged. This swelling usually goes away within 48 hours. Empty the breasts often to help prevent/relieve engorgement and get milk supply off to a good start.  

Wake your baby to feed every 2 to 3 hours during the day if they are still sleeping. Allow for no more than one, 4 hour stretch without a feeding in 24 hours. Babies will have periods of cluster feeding, nursing about every 1 to 1.5 hours. 

Know how to tell if your baby is actively swallowing/drinking at the breast. Many babies will latch and suck at the breast, but do not swallow. Baby’s jaw will drop and hold for a second with swallows. You can hear a “kuh” sound with swallows. You should feel a pulling or tugging sensation on the areola. Latch should be comfortable.  

Initially, quick sucks occur to stimulate the initial let down. You should be able to hear your baby swallow after every 1 or 2 sucks. Sucks are interspersed with swallows and swallows increase with milk let-down. As the feeding progresses, the baby will be swallowing less. This pattern may last an average of 10-15-20 minutes on each breast. Feedings should not take more than 30-40 minutes total time of active sucking/swallowing.  As breastfeeding becomes more established, some babies may only nurse on one breast per feeding. 

If needed, undress sleepy baby to a diaper for feedings. If too warm, he or she may fall asleep at the breast.  Use breast compressions to encourage baby to be active. Compress the breast with your whole hand or fingertips when sucking is noted, but not swallowing. Once swallows are noted, release the compression. Compressing the breast when baby has an extended pause during feedings can also be helpful. Stimulate baby to keep awake by talking, rubbing his/her palm, tickling chin.