Feeding immediately after birth means that your baby will get your colostrum.
Colostrum - your nutrient rich 'first' milk
Colostrum is concentrated milk, designed to meet all your baby's needs for the first few days after birth. It's rich in protective antibodies and sometimes yellow in colour. You should breastfeed or express your milk right away to get the maximum benefit from this early milk. Breastfeeding or expressing in the first hours and days also helps establish a good milk supply if you want to keep going with breastfeeding or expressing your breast milk.
When you start breastfeeding, you may feel quite overwhelmed. Don't worry, learning something new is always a challenge and breastfeeding is no different. Get help from your midwife or health visitor to make sure you get off to a good start. There are a number of practical 'How to' articles on Parent Club that can help too.
The first day
After birth many babies are quite sleepy. They typically feed during the first skin-to-skin contact, but may then feed infrequently. However, all babies are different - the first day could see your baby not feeding at all or seeming to feed constantly in short spurts - known as 'cluster feeding'. Both are usual for newborns.
Breast milk adapts to provide all the nourishment your baby needs as they grow.
How does my breast milk adapt and nourish my growing baby?
Breast milk adapts to provide all the nourishment your baby needs as they grow. You'll probably have noticed this already in the changes to your milk. At first you produced oily colostrum perfect for newborns, then concentrated milk as your baby's stomach expanded to the size of a cherry, and now more milk to fill your baby's apricot-sized tummy. Take a look at the image above to find out what breast milk is actually made up of.
The only additional thing your baby needs is Vitamin D. We don't get enough sunlight in Scotland for mums to make it in their milk, so give your baby Healthy Start vitamin drops from birth instead.
Parent Club's top tips for new mums
- Both you and your baby are learning something new so don't worry if it takes a few days to get the knack of breastfeeding.
- Find a feeding position that works for you, everyone is different so keep trying new ones until you're comfortable.
- Aim for as much bare skin-to-skin contact with your baby as possible.
- Try to notice when your baby is hungry before any crying begins as it's much easier to attach them to your breast when both of you are calm.
- Read our article on How to Breastfeed to avoid any discomfort or problems.
- Make sure you try and sleep whenever your baby does, whatever time of day or night that may be.
- Don't worry if your baby wants to feed frequently, this is a good thing. Whenever they seem interested in feeding, let them, even if you've just fed them.
- There are so many places you can go to for help and people you can turn to - never be scared to ask for support!