Posted on: February 6, 2019 | 33,000 + Mamas Read This Post!

How to succeed at breastfeeding in the first 48 hours

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Just like labour, the thought of the first 48 hours of newborn life can be overwhelming (to say the least) for first-time expectant mamas.

I get it! I was right there with ya, mama!

And even if it isn’t your first baby, the initial moments of any baby’s life can differ drastically from child to child, making the unknown a bit scary each time you creep towards the end of your third trimester.

But worry not, friends! Because regardless of how birth happens and what your baby is like in those first few hours, I can tell you that there are a few things you can be prepared for. And THAT, dear mama, is what we’re chatting about today.

The Good Stuff...

Have you heard of the “Golden Hour”? It’s the first hour after the baby is born and is the ultimate time to do skin-to-skin and attempt your very first breastfeed. It’s a magical hour that I’ve been honoured to witness numerous times, and I can tell you, mamas - it never gets old!

This is the perfect time to get to know your baby, give him or her time to smell your skin and let baby hear that familiar beating of your heart from their new home on the outside.

My advice for you:

Prepare for this time. Protect it by telling your healthcare team that you want minimal interruptions for vital checks, weights, needles and other things that can wait an hour. Don’t be in a rush to offer the breast, but do it for the first time at some point in that initial hour. And if you’ve delivered by belly birth - make sure Dad is taking advantage of this important hour on your behalf. Better yet - make it two!

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For more pro tips, check out this 8 tips to latching your baby at the breast free printable!

Aside from the importance of skin-to-skin contact, getting close to baby helps him or her get familiar with your features. At the time of birth, babies can only really focus on things about 30 cm in front of them - the perfect distance to get a good look at you if you’re holding them in the crook of your arm.

My advice for you:

Bare your boobies and let baby snuggle with you topless. The contrast between the colour of your skin and the colour of your nips will help baby to find your breast and will help them in the long run when they’re hungry and rooting.

You might notice that your newborn’s eyes aren’t very coordinated, but this is nothing to worry about, as it takes some time for their eye muscles to strengthen. The only thing you need to watch for in the first days of baby’s life would be signs of jaundice, which shows up as a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes.

A tip on Jaundice:

The best way for your newborn to get rid of jaundice is by peeing and pooping, so many health care providers will pressure you to supplement your baby with formula. You can avoid this by preparing ahead of time - when you’re still pregnant. If you hand express your colostrum before baby’s arrival and store it accordingly, you can supplement with that if you need to.

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For more pro tips, check out this helpful guide to hand-expressing colostrum & storage tips.

Many new parents think they’ve hit the baby jackpot in the first 24 hours because their newborn is sleeping so much - and others can see this as a cause for concern.

Now, there are no hard-and-fast rules about newborns, but after working with them for years, I can safely say this: babies who come from moms who received medications while in labour are generally sleepier in the first 24 hours. So, if you’ve had an epidural, narcotics or a caesarean, don’t be surprised to find your baby sleeping a lot.

One thing to note:

If your baby latched well in the first hour but isn’t waking to feed a few hours later, you can try to offer the breast again. If baby isn’t interested, that’s okay - the very best thing you can do is start to hand express some colostrum about 6 hours after the initial feed, to help establish your milk supply. And in the meantime - go get some sleep!

It’s a bit of a slap in the face for some new parents when their baby fully wakes up after birth. For the first day, it seems like you’ve got the sweetest, quietest baby ever.

And then they wake up. And they are hungry!

Expect to breastfeed a lot on the second day. Get all the help that you can with latching because this is a very common time that first-time-moms damage their nipples. And if there’s anything you don’t want, it’s to breastfeed with damaged nips - trust me!

A tip on cluster feeding:

It can be frustrating at first to cluster-feed a newborn - especially with the exhaustion and hormones whirling around. Remember that this is completely natural for newborns. Try not to worry about not producing enough milk to satisfy your baby or that you’re unable to soothe your fussy baby. Hungry babies are healthy babies.

I know it can be hard to wrap your head around this - but all that white gunk (called vernix) that was on your baby’s body when he or she was born is protective. It protected baby’s skin in utero and it continues to be protective when earthside.

And remember - the first bath takes a lot out of a new baby. They cry, shiver, poop, pee… and then sleep. Many babies sleep through at least one feeding after all the excitement of a bath. So to help increase your chances of breastfeeding success, skip it and do it later.

My advice for you:

While you wait for baby’s first bath, you can rub the vernix in or spot clean any blood that’s bothering you. And if you’re nervous about bathing baby for the first time, ask for some help before leaving the hospital.

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Final thoughts...

Is knowing all of these things going to make you love the first 48 hours of your newborn’s life?

I have no idea.

But at least it will help to give you the best chance at finding out. There’s nothing worse than not knowing what to expect, and feeling the constant worry that you don’t know what is right or wrong, good or bad, when it comes to your first newborn baby.

So hopefully this helps you to relax a bit and enjoy the first precious hours with your new baby. Because by that point, you will have earned every moment of them, Mama.

Comments! What do you have to say?

So what have I missed? What else would you add to this list of things that really helped you get off to a good start on your breastfeeding journey? Is there anything you want to know more about? Let me know in the comments below and don't forget to check out my bonus tips in the sidebar!

Cool Stuff...

This post is cool, right? Here is the short version quick links to the awesome:

Freebie Downloads!

8 tips to latching your baby at the breast.
Guide to hand-expressing
Heading Home Bingo

Bonus Breastfeeding Tips!

  • 1 If the baby comes off your breast after feeding and your nipple looks like the end of a lipstick, your latch was incorrect. This will lead to other problems, so make sure you fix your latch.
  • 2 When your baby is breastfeeding, you should feel tugging. You should never feel sharp pain.
  • 3 Stay calm and don’t be discouraged. Breastfeeding is a learned skill and most mamas have a hard time learning at first.
  • 4 If baby has a lip or tongue tie, it can affect the latch and cause pain and difficulties while breastfeeding. Check with your healthcare provider if you think baby has either or both of these.
  • 5 Don’t try to learn with visitors in the room. This is between you and your baby, and it’s easier to relax and let loose when you’re not trying to cover up.

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  • *Looking for some breastfeeding support items? Here are some I would recommend to my closest galfriends. I only share products I have used personally and professionally, and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.