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Your Baby's First Feed

Initiating Breastfeeding After Giving Birth: Your Baby's First Feed

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Newborn against mother's chest
Baby's First Feed

A baby's first feed is one of the most significant moments of any breastfeeding journey. This initial experience can set the stage for a successful breastfeeding journey. If you're interested in breastfeeding, the first feed is something you can and should prepare for. Here's what you need to know about this pivotal and precious moment.

Why the First Feed Matters

The first feed is important for both you and your baby. It’s more than just a meal; it’s an opportunity to bond and establish the foundation for breastfeeding. Early initiation of breastfeeding has numerous benefits, including:

  • Promotes Bonding: You both enjoy skin-to-skin contact when your baby is placed on your body for that first feed. Studies show that uninterrupted skin-to-skin time can help establish a solid emotional connection between you and your baby.

  • Stimulates Milk Production: Early suckling tells your body that the baby is here and hungry! Studies show that breastfeeding early and often helps your body produce higher volumes of milk in the long run. Delayed breastfeeding initiation can lead to delayed milk production and low milk supply.

  • Boosts Baby’s Immune System: Colostrum is packed with nutrients and antibodies. Its growth factors help create a healthy gut environment that is crucial for nutrient absorption and digestion. The prebiotics in colostrum also promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

  • Regulates Baby’s Body Functions: Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding help regulate your baby’s temperature, heart rate, and blood sugar levels.

Steps to a Successful First Feed

  1. Skin-to-Skin Contact: As soon as your baby is born, have them placed on your bare chest and ask that they be left undisturbed on your body for at least an hour. This skin-to-skin contact encourages your baby’s natural instinct to breastfeed and keeps them warm and comforted.

  2. Let Baby Find the Breast: Newborns have a natural rooting reflex. Allow your baby to search for your breast. You might be surprised to learn that most babies can make their way to the chest and latch themselves, even for the first feeding. Watch the following video by Global Health Media.

  3. Encourage Exploration: Some babies latch and feed during the first hour, while others sniff, lick, and explore. Any calm, positive time at the breast during this first feeding attempt counts as successful.

  4. Be patient: The first feed may take some time. Be patient and try to relax. Your baby might take a few tries before they get a good latch.

  5. Get Support: If you have questions, trouble latching, or experience discomfort, ask for help. Nurses, lactation consultants, and postpartum doulas are there to help. Remember: Pain is common, but it is not normal.

What to Expect During the First Feed

  • Timing: Ideally, the first feed happens within the first hour after birth, known as the "golden hour."

  • Duration: It can last anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. Let your baby take the lead.

  • Colostrum: Your baby will get colostrum for the first few days, which is thick, yellowish, and incredibly nutritious. Very small quantities are needed.

Tips for a Positive First Feed Experience

  • Stay Comfortable: Find a comfortable position for you and your baby. Use pillows to support your arms and back.

  • Minimize Interruptions: Try to keep the environment calm and quiet - visitors can wait. This time is for you and your baby to focus on each other.

  • Trust Your Instincts: Trust your body and your baby. You both are learning and making adjustments as needed, which is okay. Speak up if something feels off.

The first feed is a magical moment and an essential step in your breastfeeding journey. You can approach it confidently and calmly by understanding its importance and knowing what to expect. Remember, every mother-baby dyad is unique, and it’s okay to seek the help you need, whatever that may be for you.

At Chelsea Lactation & Postpartum Care, I support you and your unique needs. If you have any questions or need personalized assistance, please reach out.

Happy breastfeeding!



Book your breastfeeding support and postpartum care with me today! <3

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