By: Heather Mullen, IBCLC & Denise McDonald, IBCLC
Oh my, those first days with a newborn are quite a ride. The first couple of days, you will be surrounded by “experts” in either the hospital or at home, but once everybody has left, it will be you, your partner and a newborn baby - yikes! It can feel as if you have landed on a whole new planet. Welcome to Planet Parenthood.
Many new parents find themselves wondering, “Where are the instructions???” Especially when it comes to feeding. The question we hear most often is, “how can I tell if my baby is getting enough?”
Well the good news is that many of the answers to your questions are right in front of you. Your newborn baby has a lot to tell you. And if you are having trouble reading the signs, there is help!
Here are a few of the signs to look for, a couple of tips, and where to get some help if needed:
Spend lots of time in skin-to-skin contact!
Skin-to-skin is calming for you and your baby. It helps stabilize your baby’s systems and it is good for your milk supply if you will be breastfeeding.
Follow your baby’s hunger cues!
Newborn babies should be eating at least eight times in 24 hours, however sometimes babies will want to eat even more frequently. Your baby may be “cluster feeding” and this is a normal part of the process. Try to respond early, before baby is too upset. This will lower the level of stress for all of you.
Some cues include, but are not limited to:
- Licking lips and smacking sounds
- Routing, turning head and opening mouth
- Putting hands to mouth, or trying to suckle on anything that their mouth comes in contact with
- Baby is fussy or crying
Count wet and dirty diapers!
Everybody who eats, also pees and poops. Keeping track of wet and dirty diapers is a great way to confirm that your baby is getting enough food and staying hydrated.
In the hospital, parents are often told that the amount of diapers should equal days of life. For instance:
Day 1 = 1 wet and 1 dirty
Day 2 = 2 wet and 2 dirty
Day 3 = 3 wet and 3 dirty
Once the milk comes in, it is expected that a baby will have at least 6 wet diapers, according to the International Lactation Association. And stools should have transitioned to the mustard yellow color that is described in so many books and on blogs about newborn babies.
Tracking Baby’s Weight
Most babies lose weight in the first 3 days after birth. From Day 4 onward, baby starts to gain some of the weight lost in the first days. Once the milk comes in, most newborns should be gaining approximately 6-7 oz. in a week, and back to birth weight by Day 10.
However, if continued weight loss is occurring on day 4, then reach out to an IBCLC (NYLCA.org) and consult your healthcare provider for support and guidance.
When to reach out for help!
These first days and weeks can be so overwhelming, but there is lots of help. Let family and friends help with meals and house cleaning. Be clear about what you need. The people who love you will be grateful for the opportunity to help in whatever ways best serve your family.
Reach out for professional help if you are still concerned about any of the things discussed here, such as baby’s intake or weight gain.
Your pediatrician is always a good place to start. If you are breastfeeding and concerned about milk supply or are experiencing sore nipples or any other concerns about feeding your baby, you may want to consult with a Lactation Consultant or La Leche League. Attending our Breastfeeding Support Clinic at Bend + Bloom Yoga, offered every Thursday 1-2:30pm, is another great resource where you'll have your questions answered and learn from what other parents are going through.
Check out www.ilca.org for listings of IBCLC’s (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) in your area. Find La Leche League here: https://www.llli.org/ to locate a LLL leader to speak with, or a meeting where you can connect with other breastfeeding mothers.
Remember, you may be new to Planet Parenthood, but you are not alone.