During the first week following discharge home your infant should breastfeed between 8 and 12 times every 24 hours. Some infants may breastfeed more often. Your infant should show signs of being full and satisfied within 30 minutes. You will notice after nursing that your breasts will feel softer and less full. Your infant’s stools will transition from black to green and then become brown and eventually a wet yellow mustard color and consistency. Stool output will gradually increase and near the end of the first week stool frequency may increase to 4 or more stools per day. Often your infant will stool with every breastfeeding. Urine output will also increase to at least 5 times per day and often occurs with every stool.
After arrival home it is important your spouse and all of those who love and care about you provide you the emotional and physical support to allow you to continue to breastfeed. Arriving home with a new baby is a time of joy which can be easily displaced by anxiety and guilt. By asking for support and allowing yourself to receive support you will lessen the chance of fear, guilt or anxiety hindering the development of a secure attachment between you and your infant. If you are having difficulty with milk production or latch seek support and advice from your doctor and seek advice from a Lactation Consultant. Joining a Breastfeeding Mothers support group can also be very helpful.
Every mother must support her own needs. Resting every time the infant rests is a good place to start. A healthy diet and adequate hydration are essential. The use of a pacifier or supplemental formula should continue to be discouraged until adequate milk supply is established. This often takes about 1 month. Occasionally the use of an electric breast pump to encourage milk production will be recommended. Supplemental expressed or pumped breast milk is also occasionally given. During the first week of life 400 IU/day of Vitamin D should be initiated.
During the first 6 weeks of life feeding every 8 to 12 times per day is normal. Some infants may continue to require even more frequent feeding. Night feedings are normal and during growth spurts feeding may be even more frequent. Typical growth spurts occur after 10 days and then after 3 and 6 weeks. These spurts may last for 1-2 days. The more milk your infant takes from your breast the more milk will be produced. This allows milk production to be based on the needs of your child. Your child does know best. Continue to stay well hydrated, eat healthy and use alcohol and caffeine in moderation. No specific food restrictions are necessary. If you are placed on a medication talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe to continue to breastfeed. Very few medications prevent breastfeeding.
Continue to avoid formula supplementation if at all possible. The use of formula increases your infant’s risk for illness and changes the gut flora which keeps your child healthy and prevents many gastrointestinal illnesses. Breast milk is the only food your infant needs during the first 6 months of life.