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Breastfeeding - the first 5 days.

I will try to touch the most common issues many new moms face when trying to breastfeed in the early early days.

Forget about “breastfeeding”. The first few days are most certainly NOT like you see it in the movies or in the parks and breastfeeding caffes. If you expect that, you set yourself up for failure and who wants to to fail willingly?

Instead let’s learn the most basic evolutionary information about breastfeeding:

  1. Lactating happens naturally - Breastfeeding does NOT.

  2. Breastfeeding is a learnt skill. (many times bloody hard to learn and painful)

  3. Your baby has to learn it, and you too. The “you” part is the easy part compared to baby.

  4. Breastmilk comes in around day 5 (with most moms - not all, as we are all unique). You are looking out for colostrum the first few days. It actually should be called “starter period”

When I look at it, the whole breastfeeding / breastmilk journey is like a dinner party.

You begin with a starter. To turn on your insides, prepare them for the main course. In the end you add a dessert course (that would be the after 12 months)

That’s exaclty what evolution / mother nature did. Your baby’s insides need to get prepared. It goes without saying baby was not sucking , swallowing or digesting food before being born. All of his insides are brand new and unused.

Colostrum firstly covers everything. It is the layer that protects the digestive system.

The absolutely first feed is only around 5ml. It can take 30mins or an hour for the baby to suck it out.

So I repeat it, first feed is a tiny feed, probably a drop every couple minutes. It creates a protective film. It doesn’t fill your baby. You may feel that your breast have no milk in it, or yu are not producing. That is most probably not true.

The second feed will be a bit bigger. It can happen very soon after the first. This can go on for the first 24 hours.

Now at the end of the first day your baby will get around 15-25ml of colostrum per feed. This will start filling him up a little.

Colostrum is filled with immunologic components, higher levels of protein and carbs, but with lower levels of lactose and fat. Which is exactly what your baby needs.

For men: Imagine buying a new car and not putting in any oil. That’s colostrum in baby’s brand new body.

Around the day 5, you may already start producing bigger amounts. Some babies by then will need 75-90ml per feed. When this happens, we can start talking about transitional milk and that’s very close to mature breastmilk which will come around day 10-14.

Which is more comparable to the main course.

And here you can clearly see, how much has his newborn /never before used / stomach stretched in 5 days. It’s a gradual natural stretching. (which does not happen when you use bottles or formula)

Little sidenote:

  • you retain water last few weeks before giving birth (Yes I am talking about the extra weight you gain , the swollen anckles or should I say canckles )

  • you are hydrated through labour / c-section

  • you are hydrated right after birth

All this water before birth is also puffing up your baby. When baby is born, he will naturally loose this extra water the first few days, and with small amounts (right amounts for his tiny stomach) of colostrum he will not visibly put on weight.

That’s why it almost always seems babies loose weight after birth. It’s just water that shouldn’t been there in a first place.

That can also make breastfeeding super hard as your breasts are swollen with water too. Latching on properly and right can be tough for the baby, making the milk transfer difficult.

By day 10 when you have mature milk, your baby should be back on his “birth weight” so in other language - gained 150-300grams. Which of course if everything goes as planned and nothing disturbs the natural way of breastmilk creation and baby’s digestion, is a massive compliment to your body and breastmilk you produce.

Most common things getting in a way of this transition first few days is uneducated medical staff, formula companies pushing products and using the fact women have never gained confidence in breastfeeding subject.

Most importantly new mothers don’t get the support they seek or need the first few days/weeks.

More about breastmilk and breastfeeding next time.

Until then xxx

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