The day has come. It’s time to meet your little one. The first 48 hours are packed with emotions, information and most likely exhaustion from giving birth and the around the clock care your little human requires. Diapering, feeding, burping, crying… ahhhhh! Oh you have so many questions and concerns about things you didn’t even think to ask. Let’s walk you through this.
First things first, I hope you have checked off your list to schedule a consultation to talk to your OB, Pediatrician and Lactation Consultant before the baby arrives.
They will be a wealth of knowledge and will put you at ease that you have a good team to support you during this special time in your life. I highly recommend prenatal consults to discuss what to expect, dig into some common things that may come up during delivery/postpartum, and even discuss unexpected circumstances that may come up if things don’t go as you had planned. Preparing parents prenatally is crucial. I find these parents who received information and guidance beforehand to be less anxious and more equipped to handle the first few days with the family’s newest member.
Baby is here.
Whether delivered vaginally or by cesarean section, you want to have contact with your baby as soon as possible.
If there are no complications and we have a healthy mom and baby, they should be together and remain together throughout their hospital stay. After delivery, ideally within the first hour of life, you and your baby should be allowed uninterrupted skin to skin contact and to allow initiation of breastfeeding. Mom and baby will work together (transition) during this time. If your baby was born via cesarean section the care team should be alerted that you would like for the baby to transition with you instead of taking the baby to a nursery. Most hospitals have policies in place to allow for this to routinely happen but it’s always a good idea to talk to your care team. Keeping the baby skin to skin with you will help keep the baby warm and calm. Baby will use all its senses to find the breast and some will even self latch! This is a great way to start your breastfeeding journey. If there are any delays, do not worry! You can still do skin to skin and initiate breastfeeding as soon as you and your baby are stable and ready.
Around the clock care.
What does that mean? It means you will be checking/changing the baby’s diaper and feeding every 2-3 hours. Plan to breastfeed at least 8-12 times every 24 hour period. After the first few hours of life, your baby will be sleepy and you may be tempted to sleep for prolonged hours because let’s get real, you all are exhausted. But it’s really important to hit these goals so we can avoid any hiccups with you and the baby the next few days or weeks to come. This time is crucial in establishing milk volume now, the next days, weeks and months. What you do now plays a huge role in your success. For a good latch, you want to ensure the baby’s mouth is wide open when latched and that you notice good strong nutrive sucks. It should not hurt though some moms may be more sensitive to baby’s suckling than others. You don’t want a shallow latch that can cause pain and discomfort. Nipple should never be cracked or bleeding. Please ask for immediate lactation support if this is happening. It is not normal.
A good way to ensure the baby is latched properly is ensuring the baby is positioned correctly. Start by making sure you are comfortable, baby is positioned belly to belly with you, nose to nipple, and allowing the baby’s head to extend back to open his/her mouth nice and wide for a deeper, more effective latch. Watch the baby, not the clock! Allow the baby to unlatch or if the baby falls asleep at the breast you may unlatch and offer the other breast. You should offer both breasts at each session. It’s ok for the baby to stay feeding at breast for a shorter time on the second breast. Everything will all balance out!
Pro Tip: Hand expressing is a great way to stimulate milk production, use colostrum to lubricate nipples and helps baby latch!
Partners often ask how they can support their partner during this time. Making sure you are eating and keeping hydrated is important. Partners may assist by checking and changing the diapers before you offer the breast and may burp baby in between switching from one breast to another and after breastfeeding.
Second night. Woah baby! That sleepy baby you had to arouse to feed the first day now all of a sudden seems to want to feed, feed, feed. You may notice rooting, hands to mouth, and more crying. Parents, this is normal! Baby is ready to put in the order for some more milk the next few days and in order to do that the baby stimulates the breast often. This is the time when parents often feel breastfeeding isn’t enough and worry mother’s supply is inadequate. Your care team is monitoring the baby’s progress and they can assess the situation and would alert you if this were true and guide you through next steps. It won’t be until days 3-5 when you may notice breasts feel heavier and you are getting more wet diapers. Monitoring output is a good way to know if breastfeeding is going well. Soon enough you and baby will get into the rhythm of breastfeeding. Stay tuned for what to expect bringing home baby and what the first few days will look like at home and in the first month of life!
You made it! You’re going home!