Your baby has a tiny stomach, about the size of a marble. This is because the first milk that mum makes (colostrum) comes in very small quantities and the baby needs to take small and frequent feeds. The amount the baby takes at each feed gradually increases over the first few days. Colostrum is thick and concentrated and may be clear, white, yellow, green or red in colour! These colours are normal and colostrum contains precious antibodies to help the new baby fight infection and is a laxative to help the baby poo all the sticky black meconium.
Baby feeds keenly and appears very hungry. This is perfectly normal and actually baby is sending signals to mum’s hormones to let them know it’s time to make milk. Mum may think that she hasn’t enough milk for her baby. In fact there is no need to panic – as long as baby is fed when and for as long as he wants, the right amount of milk will be made. Giving formula milk will interfere with this process and less breastmilk will be made.
Mother’s milk starts to come in, her breasts feel full and heavy, there is also a hormone surge at this stage. Mums can often feel highly emotional and may associate this with breastfeeding. This is all normal and begins to settle down within 24-48 hours. If mum lets her baby lead the feeding, feeding whenever baby asks, then mums body will know how much milk is needed and will start making enough to meet baby’s needs.
Baby may lose a little weight – this is very normal for all babies, provided that the weight loss is less than 10% of baby’s birth weight. If the weight loss is close to or greater than 10%, your midwife will discuss this with you and help you make a plan to increase the effectiveness of feeding. Either way its important that baby continues to feed on demand (at least 8 times in 24hrs) so mum’s breasts make plenty of milk and baby soon regains weight.
Weeks 3, 5-6 & 12 – “Growth Spurts”
At around these times baby’s have a feeding frenzy, also known as a growth spurt. This can last 24-48 hours. This is normal and is the baby’s way of letting mum know that he/she is growing bigger and needs mum to make more milk. If Mum feeds as often as the baby asks, then her milk supply will respond and baby will settle down and feeds will return to a normal pattern.
During growth spurts, mums can think that baby is not geting enough milk and that it is her supply that is insufficient. If baby is not supplemented (or “topped up” then mum’s hormones will allow her milk supply to increase. If a “top-up” is introduced then the body will not know how much more milk it is needing to make.