Breastfeeding your newborn 101: One hour, one week, three months
Looking for information on breastfeeding your newborn? We've got you covered.
Congratulations, new mummy! You've protected and nourished your baby in your womb for nine months, and now it's time to nurture and guide her through life. You start to do this from the moment she is born and placed in your arms, then on your breasts. Breastfeeding comes easy to some mums, and maybe a bit more challenging to others. This is why we bring you valuable tips on breastfeeding newborn babies to guide you on your journey.
This article gathers all Africa Parent topics on breastfeeding newborn babies in one handy "umbrella post". For ease of reading, the article will be divided into sections: breastfeeding just after birth, during the first few days, and from one month to three months (the "official" newborn period).
In each section and in all the linked articles, you'll find useful tips on breastfeeding newborn babies.
Tips on Breastfeeding Newborn Babies: Let's Start From the Beginning...
Even before your baby is born, your breasts get ready to nurture her. Very early in your pregnancy, your breasts start to grow. This is because the milk-producing cells in them are rapidly multiplying in preparation for a very important job ahead. Your areolas, meanwhile, will become darker and bigger to provide visual contrast for your newborn to spot easily.
Towards your last trimester, you'll also start producing colostrum. This is a thick, rich golden-coloured first milk. Colostrum is a natural "vaccination", packed with nutrients and antibodies and is what your baby will drink for the first few days of her life.
As soon as your baby is born, the hospital staff should offer your baby to you for some "skin-to-skin" time. This first "golden hour" of your baby's life is so important. It facilitates both bonding and breastfeeding so that your newborn gets that all-important feed of colostrum.
Remember to ask for help from the hospital staff if you are struggling to get breastfeeding established. Most, if not all, Singapore hospitals have trained lactation consultants who can help you. They can also show you how to latch on your baby properly.
The following links to articles will provide you with in-depth information on breastfeeding just after birth:
- From Womb to Breast: The Fascinating First Hour of your Child's Life
- Things to Know Before Breastfeeding
- The Benefits of Colostrum for Babies
- Everything You Should Know About Breastfeeding a Premature Baby
- Why Newborns Move Towards Your Nipple
Watch: Establishing a good latch soon after birth
Tips on Breastfeeding Newborn Babies: The First Few Days
So now you're back home, and it's just you and your sweet baby. Within the first three to five days after your baby is born and most likely when you are back home, something very important will happen in relation to breastfeeding: your milk will "come in".
What this means is that your colostrum makes way for regular breastmilk. You'll know your milk has come in by your full, firm breasts and your baby's deep swallows as she suckles. You might even see drops of white milk on your nipples or around baby's mouth.
Mums, one thing to watch out for when your regular breastmilk supply is established, is breast engorgement.
If your baby does not empty each breast while nursing, then that may lead to breast engorgement where your breast becomes very full, heavy and tender.
And if this is not addressed by baby emptying your breasts, then you could develop other painful issues such as blocked milk ducts and mastitis (an infection of the milk ducts).
You'll also notice that your baby's poo takes on a yellow hue with a mustardy, grainy texture -- typical for a breastfeeding newborn.
Remember: This first week is as crucial as the first hour after birth for establishing breastfeeding. If you are worried that your baby is not latching on properly, or if you have any other concerns about nursing, check in with your doctor for guidance. Experts suggest avoiding introducing a dummy or even a bottle this early (unless recommended by a pediatrician), as this could interfere with breastfeeding, causing nipple confusion.
These articles will give you a detailed insight into breastfeeding topics relevant to the first few days after birth:
- The Proper Technique of Nursing
- The Basics of Breastfeeding
- Latching and Unlatching During Feeds
- Best Breastfeeding Apps for New Mums
- Tips to Treat Breast Engorgement
- Natural Treatments to Clear Blocked Ducts
- Newborn Jaundice and Breastfeeding
- Nipple Thrush in Breastfeeding Mums and how to Prevent it
Tips on Breastfeeding Newborn Babies: One Month to Three Months (Newborn Stage)
By the time their baby is one month old, most mums would have already settled into a comfortable breastfeeding routine. One thing you will notice is that at times during these first three months, your baby will seem to be perpetually latched to your breasts.
Mums, when this happens, don't worry that your baby is not getting enough milk. It's most likely because your little one is going through growth spurts, and to fuel this, he needs more and more of your breastmilk.
Growth spurts in the first three months usually happen at seven to 10 days, two to three weeks, four to six weeks, and three months.
Some interesting facts on breastfeeding your newborn baby and your breastmilk:
- Breastmilk can sense when your baby is sick. Your body alters the nutritional and immunological composition of your breastmilk depending on your baby’s need at that moment. It does this by "reading" your baby's saliva when he breastfeeds.
- Breastmilk has pain relief properties. It contains endorphins, which help ease pain in the human body.
- Breastfeeding goes beyond just providing your baby with food. It is also important for her healthy emotional and psychological development, and bonding between both of you.
- Unless advised by a doctor, it is not necessary to supplement with formula. Breastmilk gives your baby a complex mix of vitamins, mineral, proteins fats and other nutrients that is hard to match or duplicate.
- Remember that breastfeeding babies do not need water until they start solids.
Dads, you might feel a bit helpless when it comes to breastfeeding. But in reality, there's plenty you can do to help your breastfeeding wife.
Place a glass of water, a book or whatever else your wife needs close to her when she settles down to nurse. Help ensure she is eating wholesome foods and if she's preparing to go back to work, you can help clean breast pump parts and bottles.
Watch: How to use a breast pump
Mums, towards the end of the third month (or even before that), you might also be thinking about going back to work. If this is the case, it's important you plan out how you will continue breastfeeding when you return to work.
Most working-breastfeeding mums express their milk so their baby continues to get its goodness. Some mothers like to build up a stash of frozen breastmilk. Others express what's needed on a daily basis. Yet others work out flexi-work or work-at-home arrangements with their employers.
Whatever method you choose, it's best to plan in advance.
The following Africa Parent articles will help you work your way through breastfeeding your baby until the end of her newborn period:
- The Psychological Benefits of Breastfeeding
- Pumping at Work in Singapore
- How to Avoid Breastmilk Contamination when Pumping and Storing
- Power Pumping
- Breastfeeding and Postnatal Depression
- How to Support your Breastfeeding Wife
- Breastfeeding and Giving Water to your Baby: The Do's and Don'ts
- How much Breastmilk should you Expect to Pump? An Ages and Stages Guide
- 7 Things to Know in the First Few Months of Breastfeeding
- Best Breast Pumps: A Shopping Guide
- How to Scald your Breastmilk: A Step-By-Step Guide
Mums, this is just the start of your breastfeeding journey. Here at Afica Parent, we hope you experience the love, sense of pride and concrete mum-baby bond that breastfeeding blesses mothers with.