Breastfeeding 101 continued...
The First 24 Hours
So here’s what to expect the first 24 hours…….not much.
Your baby is tired from birth and just wants to be with you. The more you can do skin to skin, the better. You may notice that your baby’s nails are long and fear they will scratch themselves. This is extremely common and totally normal. Remember to bring a gentle nail file to the hospital with you. Gently file baby’s nails down a little so they aren’t so scary. The problem with the “newborn mittens” is they are a form of sensory deprivation. Think of what it would be like trying to eat a meal with mittens on. Babies use their hands to feel their way to the breast and communicate. You may notice in your ultrasounds that baby’s hands are up near his/her face? This is there way self communication, kind of like talking to yourself. Once they’re born, they still want there hands up near their face all the time. Plus when a newborn starts putting their hand in their mouth, this is a cue that they want a breast in their mouth. Follow this cue!
Your baby is born with lots of amniotic fluid in their tummy and they have “reserves," meaning, they are not supposed to eat a lot the first day or so, nor do they feel hunger yet. Most babies do not feed much the first 24 hours. If yours does, that’s fine too. But having a baby who just wants to be on your chest and rest is normal, expected, and just fine.
All mammals have colostrum, or “newborn milk”. Some have it for longer periods than others. Humans typically have colostrum for the first two or three days before it starts transitioning over to “mature milk”. If you hand express a little bit, you will notice that colostrum is clear. It is also thick and sticky, and there isn’t very much of it. Here is a link to a PDF, a “how to," that you can print out and take with you.
Humans are not supposed to have large amounts of food at the beginning. The immaturity of your baby’s GI system can’t handle lots of milk right now. The job of the colostrum is to line your baby’s gut with billions of good bacteria, among other fabulous stuff, that protect your baby from disease, push out the meconium (the black, tarry stool), and prepare her for a larger meal on a couple of days. Lots of moms get very nervous about the amount of colostrum being so small. Keep reminding yourself, it’s supposed to be. Here is a diagram of how tiny your baby’s belly is for the first two days.
See, it won’t take much to fill it. If you start to worry because you can’t actually see the amount going into your baby, just remember…What goes in comes out. Your goal for the first 24 hours is one pee and one poop.