Immediately postpartum is not the best time to be learning new information, you may have more difficulty processing it due to the nature and whirlwind of the post-birth bustle. By taking a prenatal breastfeeding class in-person or online, you will be more familiar with your baby's feeding cues and ready to tackle that first latch on day one with confidence.
Protect The Golden Hour
The golden hour is the first hour immediately following your baby's birth. This is a time where your baby should be left undisturbed on your body skin-to-skin until after the first feeding has finished. By protecting this time, you increase your chances of being available when your baby first starts to show feeding cues. You can help them navigate to the breast quickly and efficiently, avoiding excess crying or escalating to a point that they need to calm down.
If you have a surgical birth, your provider may be open to beginning skin-to-skin in the operating room if you and baby are doing well. If not, when you return to your recovery room plan to get comfy and snuggle in together for your oh so sweet golden hour and give your baby a chance to root around and find the breast.
If you haven't had an opportunity to meet your lactation consultant prenatally, plan to schedule your first consult by 3 and 5 days postpartum. Clients working with a lactation consultant in the first week of life are far more likely to see their baby regain their birth weight by the two week time frame.
Watch The Baby Not The Clock
How long should you feed your baby? Ten minutes? Fifteen? Thirty?
You will begin to notice two types of suck patterns when your baby is nursing. A nutritive suck is an active suck that leads to milk removal and calorie intake. When looking for this type of suck pattern observe your baby's chin, it should be pumping and driving the let down. Often the temple is seen pulsing, and active drinking noises can be heard such as a "kaw" when baby is swallowing (after the first 3-5 days).
The non-nutritive suck pattern is one that is usually observed when baby is falling or has fallen asleep at the breast. This pattern is more relaxed through the jaw with the movement often feeling like a quivering vs a pulling, like in a nutritive sucking pattern. During this time is when you may be able to unlatch your baby and lay them down for a bit, as they are in a deeper stage of sleep.
If your newborn slows down their nutritive sucking pattern to a non-nutritive one, try rousing them to drink more by adding in breast massage or compression, tickling their feet, or wiping their forehead with a cool cloth. If your they will not rouse to drink more and are on the first breast, break their latch, take a short break to burp and wake baby a bit, and then offer the other side before they fall too deeply into sleep.
Are you the main cook in your home? Consider making a meal plan for the first two weeks postpartum during your pregnancy to reduce decision fatigue on your part later. The Instant Pot, freezer meals, meal preparation services, Grub Hub and Postmates can all help you feed yourself while you are busy feeding your baby in those early weeks.