You made it to the finish line in the marathon known as childbirth, and survived the postpartum whirlwind. You are home with your little one, staring at her, wondering how you managed to create something so perfect.
You are tired beyond measure and hanging in there with breastfeeding. Your sweet babe is nursing A LOT. So much you wonder if it’s normal. Why was she more settled initially postpartum than she is now?
This is a really common scenario for new mamas. Night one often feels manageable with your newborn. They feed and settle in for a sleep; the truth is, they are also recovering from birth. They say birth is the biggest transition we make in our life, we just don’t remember.
Most mamas who have a vaginal delivery are home 24 hours post birth. Caesarean births usually stay for 48 hours. In Canada, the average stay after birth is decreasing as the demands on our health care system increase.
Night two often hits at home. This sweet bundle you brought home all of a sudden wakes up to the world… and wants to feed…. and not stop!
Why is your baby doing this?
Moms often panic that they don’t have the milk their baby needs as she seems so unsettled on night two. This is not the case. Babies are wired to feed and feed in the initial postpartum phase to help build your milk supply. When your babe is first born she will drink your colostrum- a thicker, yellow tinged substance high in immunologic properties. Your baby initially only needs 5-15 mL of your colostrum and there is no need to measure. Time is also not an indicator on if your baby is getting adequate amounts of colostrum. Instead of watching the clock, watch your baby. When you are feeding, watch for big sucks and swallows. Is her jaw moving up and down? More of a nibble like suck is not powerful enough to expel the colostrum. It is normal for a babe to pause while she is first learning to breastfeed. This is where we usually see the swallow. Think suck.. suck.. swallow…. Suck… suck.. swallow. It can be hard to hear the swallow with only colostrum but once your milk comes in it becomes audible. Till then, watch during pause for the swallow. These are signs of an effective feed.
The second way to tell your baby is getting enough is tracking her wet and dirty diapers. One easy way to remember is on day one she should have one wet and one dirty diaper, day two she should have two wet and two dirty, day three she should have three wet and three dirty, four is four, and after that she should be having multiple of both each day. If your baby is not doing this, call your health care provider and they will help you assess your baby’s intake.
When night two hits and your baby wants to nurse and nurse and nurse, take a look at the entire picture. She is waking to feed- which is important, having wet and dirty diapers and you can see big sucks and swallows; all signs that your baby is getting what she needs. Once you have these indicators checked off your list, settle into a comfy chair, put her skin to skin and let her nurse when she wants to. She will likely spend most of the night on the breast which is normal. She is helping set up an ample milk supply! Drink lots of water and when the sun comes up watch her settle into a longer stretch of sleep. Place her in her bassinet and turn your phone off. The visitors can wait, sleep when she does and know that you are following a very normal pattern in the beginnings of a breastfeeding journey.