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Feeding Your Newborn Baby: The First 48 Hours

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Feeding Your Newborn Baby: The First 48 Hours

Congratulations on your new little one!

You may be surprised to find that your first day at home will probably be remarkably quiet and your baby very sleepy. Your newborn will be recovering from the birth and adjusting to life outside the womb.  Because their stomach is so tiny, only the size of a marble, your newborn will need to feed often. You'll probably find your baby wants between eight and twelve feeds for the 24 hours.

Some newborns are excessively sleepy. Wake your baby to have a feed if two hours have passed without feeding and four hours at night.

If breastfeeding seems tricky at first, there's no need to feel down-hearted. Many new mothers and babies take a while to get the hang of it. You will both get better at breastfeeding with time, it takes practice and co-ordination! Lots of skin to skin during these first few days (as well as the coming weeks) will help with feeding, bonding and calming baby.

You should be offered advice on how to best position your baby and yourself for breastfeeding. This will help to ensure your baby latches correctly and that you are both comfortable. You should be reassured that you may experience brief discomfort when you start a breastfeed, but this should not persist.

You may find that one position works well when you're feeding on one side and a different position works better on the other- this is fine, do what works for you. If you have just had a caesarean section then you may find that feeding baby in the football hold or lying down works well for you as there is less pressure on the wound. 

Keeping your baby near you will help you to learn her cues for feeding.Early cues include licking her lips, opening and closing her mouth, sucking on her lips, tongue and hands. Active cues include rooting around, trying to position for nursing- pulling back, head bobbing, fidgeting, and fussing.Try to feed your baby when you see these early and active cues so that she is calm going to the breast.

If these cues have been missed she may be moving her head frantically side to side and may be crying- calm her first and then put her to the breast. 

Colostrum is the first milk that comes in and gradually changes over time. It is rich in fats and protein, and helps protect babies against infection. Your baby's first feeds will probably take 40 minutes or longer. Your breasts will be producing the thick, antibody-richfood, colostrum. After a few days your milk will come in, and your baby will usually feed for between 5 minutes and 30 minutes.

Try not to worry if your baby doesn't spend long feeding. Some babies can take their fill in just a few minutes, while for others it takes far longer. As long as your baby is latched on properly, she should get all of the goodness she needs. Signs of a satisfied baby include wet and dirty nappies, a settled baby and weight gain. 

If you need to build up your milk supply, it is recommended you do so with a hospital-grade breastpump. For example, the NHS recommends that mothers of premature babies express eight to 10 times a day, including at least once at night, to keep milk supply up. For more info on expressing breastmilk to build up supply, you can read: Top Tips for Expressing Breastmilk – The Ultimate List to Help You Succeed


Enjoy these first few days in the sleep deprived haze that you will be in. You're amazing!