Does it matter how often I breastfeed during the first few days?

It is exciting to finally meet your baby! Do you wonder how breastfeeding works during the first few days? Here are the basics from birth to Day 4.

Fun Facts

  • A newborn's stomach is as small as a shooter marble.
  • At birth, you have just the right amount of milk to fill it.
  • Your breasts are never empty.
  • When breastfeeding well, babies do better without water or formula.
  • Lots of breastfeeding brings in more milk faster.
  • Lots of breastfeeding helps prevent engorged breasts.
  • Most mothers can make enough milk for twins, triplets, and more.
  • Keep baby on your body skin-to-skin for easier breastfeedings and more milk.

What to Expect

  • Lots of breastfeeding.
  • Your nipple may feel tender for the first minute or two then get better.
  • If your baby fusses, offer each breast more than once.
  • Expect 1-2 wet diapers each day and black stools.
  • Many newborns lose up to 10% weight loss by Day 4.

Things to Learn

  • Practice breastfeeding with baby tummy down on your body, so you can feed and rest.
  • For greater comfort, help baby take the breast deep in her mouth. If it hurts, ask for help.
  • Make sure baby feeds at least 8 times each day. These may be bunched together. If needed, guide baby to breast while drowsy and in a light sleep.
  • Ask where you can get breastfeeding help if needed.

When to Seek Help in the Early Days

  • If breastfeeding hurts the whole time or hurts a lot.
  • If your baby loses more than 10% of birth weight.

 Even when breastfeeding is going well, you may experience some of the following:

  • Your baby has fussy times. (Most babies do.)
  • She wants to feed again after breastfeeding (Most babies do.)
  • She wants to feed more often. (This adjusts your milk production.)
  • Your breasts no longer feel full. (Usually at about 3-4 weeks.)
  • She wants to feed less often or for a shorter time. (Babies get faster with practice.)
  • She wakes a lot at night. (Babies need to do this to get enough milk.)
  • She will take a bottle after breastfeeding. (Babies like to suck.)
  • You can't express much milk. (This skill takes practice).

Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, Lactation Consultant, Ameda Breastfeeding Products
Coauthor of Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers