Your first few days

Information for each stage of feeding your baby
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Congratulations on your new arrival! Choosing to breastfeed for the important first few feeds is a great decision for your baby. The following links will support you and your baby over the next few days, both as as your milk comes in and as you learn to breastfeed together.

Why breastfeed in the first few days?

Feeding immediately after birth means that your baby will get your colostrum.

Colostrum - your nutrient rich 'first' milk

Colostrum is concentrated milk, designed to meet all your baby's needs for the first few days after birth. It's rich in protective antibodies and sometimes yellow in colour. You should breastfeed or express your milk right away to get the maximum benefit from this early milk. Breastfeeding or expressing in the first hours and days also helps establish a good milk supply if you want to keep going with breastfeeding or expressing your breast milk.

benefits of breastfeeding

Beginning breastfeeding

When you start breastfeeding, you may feel quite overwhelmed. Don't worry, learning something new is always a challenge and breastfeeding is no different. Get help from your midwife or health visitor to make sure you get off to a good start. There are a number of practical FeedGood 'How to guides' on this site that can help too.

The first day

After birth many babies are quite sleepy. They typically feed during the first skin-to-skin contact, but may then feed infrequently. However, all babies are different - the first day could see your baby not feeding at all or seeming to feed constantly in short spurts - known as 'cluster feeding'. Both are usual for newborns.

Top breastfeeding tips for the first few days

Advice from mums and experts to help you settle into life as a new breastfeeding mum.

FeedGood's top tips for new mums

newborn breastfeeding
  • Both you and your baby are learning something new so don't worry if it takes a few days to get the knack of breastfeeding. 
  • Find a feeding position that works for you, everyone is different so keep trying new ones until you're comfortable.
  • Aim for as much bare skin-to-skin contact with your baby as possible.
  • Try to notice when your baby is hungry before any crying begins as it's much easier to attach them to your breast when both of you are calm. 
  • Read our guide on "How to Breastfeed" to avoid any discomfort or problems. 
  • Make sure you try and sleep whenever your baby does, whatever time of day or night that may be. 
  • Don't worry if your baby wants to feed frequently, this is a good thing. Whenever they seem interested in feeding, let them, even if you've just fed them. 
  • There are so many places you can go to for help and people you can turn to - never be scared to ask for support!

Top tips from mums, for new mums giving breastfeeding a go

Read on to find out more about how to breastfeed correctly, hear more advice from other mums and find all the support you need.

Am I doing it right?

Breastfeeding is something you and your baby will get the hang of together. It just takes a little time, support, and patience. It's important to get the basics of positioning and attachment right, as this means your baby will be able to feed more effectively. Each mum has to find out what works for them, their baby, and their family - we have lots of info and advice to help you below.

Is my baby getting enough breast milk?

In the first few days your baby will drink very little, their tummy is only the size of a cherry! 
Around day 3-4 your breasts will fill with even more milk in response to your baby's feeding patterns and growing tummy. Watch out for your baby's cues telling you they're hungry, start feeding and keep going for as long as they want - this is how your body knows how much milk to make.
 
If you want some reassurance, follow the links below to help you understand a bit more about how your baby is feeding.

Feeding checklist

If you have any concerns about your baby's nappies, behaviour or weight, or if you have any concerns about your milk supply, be sure to speak to your midwife or health visitor.

feeding checklist

Checklist for normal feeding

Your baby has 8 feeds or more in 24 hours
Your baby is feeding for between 5 and 40 minutes at each feed
Your baby has normal skin colour
Your baby is generally calm and relaxed when feeding and is content after most feeds
Your baby has wet and dirty nappies
Breastfeeding doesn't hurt
When your baby is 3-4 days old and beyond you should be able to hear your baby swallowing frequently during the feed
 
If you don't tick all the boxes, then speak to your healthcare professional as soon as you can.
 
From a day old your baby should be having wet and dirty nappies, you can check what you should expect to see in the image and chart below
 
newborn dirty nappies

Checklist for normal nappies

Baby's ageWet nappiesDirty nappies
1-2 days old 1-2 or more per day - may be pink in colour because of urates*1 or more dark green/black ‘tar like’ called meconium
3-4 days old3 or more per day nappies feel heavier
At least 2, changing in colour and consistency – brown/green/yellow, becoming looser (‘changing stool’)
 
5-6 days old5 or more heavy wet**At least 2, yellow; may be quite watery
7 days to 28 days old6 or more heavy wetAt least 2, at least the size of a £2 coin yellow and watery, ‘seedy’ appearance

*Urates are a dark pink/red substance that many babies pass in the first couple of days. If they are still pink in colour beyond the first couple of days you should tell your midwife as it may be a sign your baby is not getting enough milk. 

** With new disposable nappies it's often hard to tell if they're wet, so to get an idea if how much is enough urine, take a nappy and add 2-4 tablespoons of water. This will give you an idea of what to look/feel for.

 
You can download and print the a full Feeding Assessment here and find out more about newborn feeding and weight gain in the pages below.

What happens when my breast milk comes in?

Whether or not you plan to breastfeed, your body will still make milk after the birth. This is because delivery of the placenta sets off a response in your body that 'tells' the breasts to make milk.

The first few days of breastfeeding and beyond.

Around day 3-4, you'll probably notice your breasts becoming fuller and warmer. This is your milk 'coming in'. Your baby is ready for more milk and so your body is now producing more. It'll adapt according to your baby's needs and might look thin compared to colostrum (the concentrated milk you produce right after the birth), but it will get creamier as you continue to feed. Your breasts will be fuller and heavier than usual, but any discomfort you feel should pass in a couple of days. 

The let-down reflex

When your baby sucks during breastfeeding, your milk is squeezed down ducts towards your nipples. This causes a strong tingling feeling for some women, although others won't feel anything at all. You'll notice your baby responding with deep rhythmic swallows as the milk starts to flow. If your baby seems to fall asleep before the deep swallowing stage, check they’re properly attached. The video below shows how a correctly attached baby gets all the milk they need from their mum:

You can find out more about what to expect and how to prepare for your milk 'coming in' by following the links below:

What's normal - what's not

Your milk 'coming in' may feel a bit strange, but it shouldn't be sore or painful.

Things to look out for

Keep an eye out for the following conditions - they affect some mums once their milk comes in. However, there are lots of things you can do to help with the symptoms or even prevent them from happening.

Can my partner help me breastfeed?

You're likely to breastfeed for longer if you have your partner’s help and support.

Sharing responsibilities

Breastfeeding gives you time to connect with your baby, but your partner needs time to build that special bond too. In the very early days they can help with nappy changes and bath time, and they can also enjoy skin-to-skin contact with their little one. This is a great way for them to bond, plus it gives you a well-earned break.

In the first of two short videos, a new dad tells us how he supported his partner's decision to breastfeed right from the start.

In this second video, a young dad talks about how he takes care of the housework and his toddler to allow his partner to breastfeed their new baby.

You can also use our 'Supporter guide for Dads' to show your partner how they can help you.

Expressing breast milk in the early days

There are lots of reasons you might choose to express your milk. It may simply be the best option for your family, a partner may want to help with feeding, or you may be planning a night out with friends. Whatever the reason, expressing gives you a great alternative to breastfeeding. The links below can help you get started.