If you are pregnant and about to deliver your baby, remember, that when your baby is born, for the first 24 hours, you must focus completely on breastfeeding.
A lack of sufficient focus on breastfeeding in the first 24 hours can lead to problems like sore nipples and a poor breastmilk supply in later days.
This can make breastfeeding feel like a struggle to both you and your baby, prompting both of you to give up in a few weeks.
Why is it important to focus on breastfeeding in the first 24 hours?
- Suckling your baby is the signal your breasts need to begin producing breastmilk.
- Suckling causes the production of oxytocin which brings milk down to the nipples.
- Suckling also empties your breasts of the milk already produced, which then prompts your breasts to produce more milk.
- The colostrum produced in the first 24 hours has everything your baby needs for good health and immunity.
- Colostrum has a high concentration of nutrients. Even if your baby takes in a drop or two of colostrum it supplies sufficient nourishment.
- The laxative action of colostrum stimulates the passing of stools. Frequent passing of stools reduces the chances of neonatal jaundice.
- Colostrum lines the gut and prepares it to receive and digest milk.
- The antibodies in colostrum protect the new born from many infections.
- Colostrum is rich in vitamins and minerals which help in the maturation of the baby’s body and brain.
- Breastfeeding ensures that your baby is nestled close to your body, and this helps your baby to adjust to the world outside the womb.
- Skin to skin contact has a calming effect on both mother and baby.
- Close contact with the mother sets off the rooting reflex which makes the baby crawl towards the breast and attempt to latch on and start feeding.
Tips for nursing in the first 24 hours:
- Start breastfeeding within the first hour after birth.
- If you cannot sit up straight, lie propped up in bed at a 45-degree angle and start feeding.
- Undress your baby and uncover yourself for maximum skin to skin contact.
- Try feeding in the cross-body feeding position.
- After each feed, express some milk with your hand and offer it to your baby on a spoon.
What to do to establish a good milk supply?
If your baby is not able to latch and suckle effectively in the first 24 hours, start expressing breast milk with your hands as often as possible.
You are likely to feed your baby 10-12 times in the first 24 hours. Express milk from the other breast while your baby feeds at one breast.
Also try to express milk while your baby is asleep and when you shower.
You can collect the milk you express, but even if you don’t, don’t think of it as wasted milk. The more milk you express, the more you will produce for your baby.
Breastfeeding frequently and expressing as much breastmilk as possible in the first 24 hours, will build your breastmilk supply. This will encourage your baby to latch and suckle effectively by the third day.
You will then begin to enjoy your breastfeeding journey.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. She is the author of 7 books on parenting published by Juggernaut Books and her books are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.