Breastfeeding Timeline: What to Expect the First Few Hours After Birth And Beyond


Breast milk can be considered as your baby’s very first superfood. It is tailor-made to suit your little one’s nutritional requirements at birth, and almost magically changes as your baby grows to provide the nourishment they need to fuel their development.

At UpSpring, we understand the importance of breastfeeding, so we want to provide mums with the knowledge and tools you will need to successfully breastfeed as soon as your baby is born. Below is a summary of what your nursing routine and your baby’s behaviour may look like. It is provided by our certified lactation consultant Linda Hill, IBCLC.

breastfeeding

Your Breast Milk Supply

  • First eight to 24 hours after birth: You may be able to express a few drops of yellowish liquid called colostrum. Known as “liquid gold” for good reason, colostrum is power-packed with essential micronutrients, and antibodies that help protect your newborn from illness. Don’t worry about the small quantity of colostrum your breasts produce. One teaspoon of colostrum (total from both breasts) per feeding is a normal amount.
  • Days two to three: Your breasts are still soft, and your regular milk still has not come in. Colostrum increases to around two to three teaspoons per feeding.
  • Days three to five: Your breast milk comes in. Your breasts will feel fuller and may become engorged and hard. Mature milk will still have colostrum in it for around two weeks, so it is normal for it to have a yellowish tint. The normal amount of milk per feeding is around 1.5–2.5 ounces.
  • Days on: Your breasts should feel softer after nursing. It is normal for mums to worry about their breast milk supply after the engorgement has subsided. Some nursing mothers who are concerned about their milk supply use breastmilk boosters like Upspring’s Milkflow supplements to help increase their breastmilk. If your baby is content after feedings and has the correct number of wet/soiled diapers, then rest assured that all is well. After day five, a breastfed baby will generally have around five to six wet diapers within a 24-hour period. 

Baby’s Activity

  • First eight hours after birth: Baby is usually wide awake in the first hour of life. Placing your newborn skin-to-skin on your chest and allowing your baby to smell you and absorb your warmth and naturally make his or her way to your breast is highly recommended. Baby should nurse within an hour after birth.
  • Eight to 24 hours after birth: Your baby may be very sleepy from the birth process. Allowing your little one to cuddle and sleep on your chest as much as possible will facilitate both breastfeeding and bonding. Your goal for the first day is around six small feedings.
  • Day two: Baby may be a little more alert today. Expect your little one to nurse around eight to 10 times within the day.
  • Days three to five: Look for early feeding cues, such as rooting. This is a reflex that prompts your baby’s mouth to open by a stimulus such as rubbing your finger or nipple across his or her cheek. Other feeding cues include lip smacking, and your baby bringing their hands to the face. Your baby may want to be at the breast non-stop until your milk comes in. You will notice your little one swallowing regularly while nursing.
  • Days on: Baby should appear satisfied after feeding and might indicate this by sleeping, playing, or appearing calm. You might also notice your little one cluster feeding at around 10 days, three weeks, three months, six weeks, and six months. These periods are typically when babies go through growth spurts. 

Feeding Routine 

  • First eight hours after birth: You may only get a couple of feedings in as your baby may go into a deep sleep to recover from the birthing process. This is normal, and your baby will be taking in colostrum during these feeding sessions.
  • Eight to 24 hours after birth: Watch for the feeding cues that we described previously and put your baby to your breast whenever these cues are observed.
  • Days two to four: Feedings often take forty minutes or longer. Do offer your baby both breasts at every feeding. If your little one is very sleepy, switch back and forth between breasts to help keep your baby awake and interested. Ten to 15 minutes per breast is considered a good feeding.
  • Days on: It is important for the first two weeks that your baby is awakened for feedings should they sleep for longer than the recommended time. This would be no longer than a three-hour stretch during the day, and a four-hour stretch at night without feeding. Keep in mind that it is normal for babies to lose five to 10 percent of their birth weight in the first week of life, which they should regain by two weeks. When your little one has regained their birth weight, it is okay to allow for a longer five- to six-hour stretch of sleep at night. As your baby gets older, they become more efficient at removing the milk from your breasts, so feedings may not take as long. They have no need for water or solids until six months of age, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

Breastfeeding Tips

  • First eight hours after birth: Keep in mind that your newborn might be alert for the first one to three hours after birth, and then often goes into a deep sleep that may last up to five hours. Nurse at both breasts as long as your baby is actively sucking. If you encounter difficulties latching your baby on properly, you should ask the medical staff present to guide you on correct latching techniques. This is important, because for your little one to get a good flow of milk, he or she needs to latch on correctly. Correct latching will also help prevent issues like cracked and sore nipples.
  • Days two to three: Try to nurse on both sides at each feeding aiming for 10-15 minutes on each breast. Expect some nipple tenderness. But if you see any cracks, blisters or bruises, speak to a lactation consultant or other health professional, as this could indicate latching or other issues.  To help ease any potential discomfort, you could apply a few drops of your colostrum/ milk on your nipples after each feeding and a nipple balm (if desired) over that. A warm compress to the nipple just before latching is also soothing.
  • Days four to five: Now is generally when your milk will come in. Consider hand expressing or pumping out a little milk, if the baby is having difficulty latching on due to the fullness of the breast. It generally takes around 20 minutes for your baby to empty one breast. You will notice that the breast becomes soft as your baby empties it. When your little one stops swallowing, burp him or her, and then try offering the other breast. Alternate which breast you start with at each feeding.
  • Days on: Breast engorgement should only last a couple days. If you are in discomfort, you could apply an ice pack on your breasts after feedings. It is okay to pump or hand express to help soften breasts as needed until nipple tenderness and engorgement are improved or gone.

Baby’s Urine Output

  • Eight to 24 hours after birth: Baby must have at least one wet diaper in the first 24 hours.
  • Day two: Baby should have two wet diapers.
  • Day three: Your little one should have three wet diapers today. It is normal to see “red brick dust” colour in your baby’s urine in the first three days. This colour is caused by urate crystals1, and is common during a baby’s first days of life. It is easy to panic thinking the colour is caused by blood (but it’s not). You should speak to a medical staff member if you notice this in your baby’s diaper and are concerned.
  • Day four: Your little one will have around four wet diapers today. When milk comes in the wet diapers will increase in number and will become heavier.
  • Days on: Your baby should have six to eight wet diapers per day of colorless or light-yellow urine.

Baby’s Stools

  • Eight to 24 hours after birth: Your baby’s stools will be very dark (even black) and tar-like in texture. This is known as meconium2.
  • Day two: Baby may have a second very dark (meconium) stool.
  • Days three to four: Your baby’s stools will change from black to greenish as breast milk starts coming in.
  • Day five: Breast milk is easily digested and so your little one could have anywhere from four to eight yellow, seedy, watery stools each day.
  • Days on: The number of stools may slowly decrease after four to five weeks and the consistency may become less watery. It is also normal3 for exclusively breastfed babies to go without a dirty diaper for up to even a week, as there is little waste product left from breastmilk. However, if your baby doesn’t pass stools while seeming to be in discomfort or pain, you should seek a paediatrician’s opinion without delay.

Dealing With Low Breastmilk Supply

When it comes to breastfeeding, low milk supply may be a cause for concern for some mums. Generally, when your baby latches properly, and if you eat a balanced diet and stay well-hydrated, your milk supply will regulate. But sometimes, stress, dehydration and other factors may result in a drop in milk supply.  When this happens, some mummies use breastmilk boosters to increase their milk supply.

A popular breastmilk booster in many Asian countries, including Singapore, is fenugreek5. Used for centuries, it is thought to be effective as a galactagogue for some mothers. However, in its raw form, it can be bitter and hard to ingest. This is why UpSpring brings you the benefits of fenugreek, along with a blend of blessed thistle and anise (also galactagogues), in their Milkflow capsule range

Milkflow Fenugreek + Blessed Thistle Capsules

milkflow fenugreek and blessed thistle

Each of these capsules has 1,800 mg of concentrated fenugreek seed extract, that could help improve your milk production**. Because of this high concentration, you only need to take one to three Milkflow capsules a day, unlike some other brands where you may need to take up to six (or more) capsules daily.

UpSpring also presents another galactagogue – Blessed Thistle – in capsule form.

Milkflow Blessed Thistle Capsules 

Each serving contains 1,000mg of naturally-source concentrated Blessed Thistle6 extract, which could help promote a healthy breast milk supply. This supplement also contains a proprietary botanical blend that may aid digestive health in both mummy and baby**

Both the Milkflow Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle supplements could be taken whenever you want to boost your milk supply, whether this is to cope with the demands of your baby’s growth spurt/s, or in preparation for heading back to work.

For more information on both products, click here.

Parents, remember that every baby and every mum’s milk storage capacity differ, so your feeding “routine” may be greatly different to that of your friends’ schedules. The same goes for how much milk you make. Some babies take their time to nurse, others get down to business immediately. Some mums produce more milk, and their child might only need to nurse from one breast, while others require both breasts per feeding.

All of this is normal, and as long as your baby is following their growth chart curve and showing other signs of development and has the recommended output of wet and dirty diapers, you shouldn’t worry. However, if you are concerned about any aspect of your little one’s health and wellbeing, including breastfeeding, you should speak to a paediatrician for advice.

*Before you try a galactagogue, it’s important to speak to a lactation consultant who could give you some tips on how to improve production.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

References

  1. Orange Stains in a Healthy Neonate’s Diaper. Jack Y. Jeng, Walter B. Franz, III. Clinical Pediatrics. Published June 4, 2014. Retrieved on June 2, 2021 from Orange Stains in a Healthy Neonate’s Diaper - Jack Y. Jeng, Walter B. Franz, 2014 (sagepub.com). 
  1. Meconium. Christy L. Skelly; Hassam Zulfiqar; Senthilkumar Sankararaman. NCBI. Last updated July 26, 2020. Retrieved on June 2, 2021 from Meconium - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov). 
  1. Your Baby’s Not Pooping but Passing Gas? Here’s What You Should Know. Healthline. Published May 19, 2020. Retrieved on June 2, 2021 from Your Baby's Not Pooping but Passing Gas? What You Should Know (healthline.com). 
  1. Medications, Herbal Preparations, and Natural Products in Breast Milk. ScienceDirect (from Botanical Medicine for Women's Health, 2010). Retrieved on June 2, 2021 from Galactagogue - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. 
  1. Fenugreek. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Last revision February 15, 2021. Retrieved on June 2, 2021 from Fenugreek - Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) - NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov). 
  1. A Review of Herbal and Pharmaceutical Galactagogues for Breast-Feeding. The Ochsner Journal. Published 2016. Retrieved on June 2, 2021 from A Review of Herbal and Pharmaceutical Galactagogues for Breast-Feeding (nih.gov).