Breastfeeding during the 1st 24 hours of your baby’s life will be different than the days to come. Parents who are not aware of this often spend the 1st 24 hours worrying rather than resting.
Baby’s gestational age, whether baby is born vaginally or by c-section, and even the length of mom’s labor can affect the baby’s eagerness, or lack thereof, to breastfeed on day 1.
What most parents experience is a very eager baby in the 1st hour or two after delivery, followed by sporadic or very little interest in breastfeeding. This is because babies have a rush of adrenaline when they are born. During the first hour, they are awake and alert, and are amazing breastfeeders! They don’t usually need my help for the first feeding, and typically, neither does mom.
Oh, but what happens after a rush of adrenaline? Yep, you guessed it. They sleep. And, they sleep. And, they sleep. This is normal. Healthy, full-term babies, in the absence of illness, don’t have to be fed routinely. They were fed very well right up until the minute their umbilical cord was cut.
During the 1st 24 hours, healthy, full-term babies should be kept skin to skin with their mom as much as possible and fed when they show interest in eating. This may be often, but it may not be at all. They should not be bathed right away, and they should not be passed around for all the family to hold, as these things will make the baby less likely to show feeding interest and feed on-demand.
Labor and delivery are tiring and stressful for both mom and baby. Don’t worry if baby isn’t a champion breast feeder in the 1st 24 hours. He will make up for it on day 2, or should I say, night 2! Mom and baby both need time to rest and recover. Unless baby is premature or sick, he does not need to be supplemented with formula during the first 24 hours if he’s not feeding. Giving formula is unhealthy and actually interferes with learning to breastfeed. It also increases a mom’s risk of engorgement and/or an insufficient supply of milk later.