If you gave birth at home, there’s no hurry to get dressed. You’ll have to get dressed to travel home if you gave birth in hospital. Breastfeeding days 2-3-4 will go more smoothly if you set up skin-to-skin contact with your baby again as soon as you can and just stay like that. Somebody else can take over holding the baby while you attend to your own needs for a while – but it’s you she needs. Your smell, heartbeat, and voice tell her she’s home and safe.
Sleep? What’s that? Oh yes, that good stuff you used to get at night. Maybe one day …
Breastfeeding days 2-3-4:
intense and emotional
You may find you fall in love with your baby as soon as he’s born, or it may take longer for those feelings to develop. Skin to skin contact helps with the physical side of bonding, because your body produces the hormones of love in response to this gentle touch.
You may re-live old traumas. Feel free to talk or not. You may have trauma from this birth that needs processing. It is your right to get whatever help you need – ask your medical team for counselling services you can use. You may find you don’t want to talk yet, and prefer to re-visit your hurt in six months time – that’s also fine.
If breastfeeding hurts, find out more about how babies attach well to the breast.
It’s not supposed to hurt, and there are ways to fix it.
How often do babies need to breastfeed on days 2-3-4?
Lots! As much as possible. Or we could say, 8 to 12 times in 24 hours, offering both sides each time.
and then comes … (cue scary music!)
The Night Between Days 2 and 3
when your baby will probably not sleep at all, so you won’t either …
will want to feed ‘constantly’ …
and you may wonder if you will survive it.
The good news: it’s just this one night. (Yes, there may be difficult times later, but this constant intense need is just for tonight.)
It used to have a name: ‘Calling In The Milk’. That’s a good way to look at it. So what’s happening?
Your hormones are changing over from pregnant to non-pregnant. Your milk starts to change from colostrum to more plentiful, more mature milk. The tiny glandular cells in your breasts are growing and receiving messages to wake up and make milk.
You may need to cry… that’s ok. The flow of tears can release emotions and help your milk to flow. Everything you feel is real and important. It will feel less overwhelming tomorrow.
Let’s talk about poo
You’ll be studying it closely as it changes through the condiments:
Marmite on days 1-2;
followed by pesto on days 2-3;
French mustard on days 3-4;
by day 5 we hope to see English mustard colour, perhaps a bit grainy – and plentiful!
If your baby is slow to proceed through the condiments / colours, ask for help to make sure he is attaching well at the breast.
Your baby’s job during breastfeeding days 2-3-4
and especially on that special night … is to create the glandular cells, keep them active and switched on, and so – to create the basis of your milk supply for the rest of your breastfeeding journey.
His other job is to learn your face by heart. That’s why he loves to gaze into your eyes. He’s fascinated by your partner’s face, and your older child too. Those little puzzled looks mean he’s learning whose voice goes with which face. Your baby is matching the tones to the expressions, and feeling how he is soothed or excited by them. He will start to copy your expressions. This is how he’s is learning to be human.
is to hold your baby close, feed him often, and gaze at him as much as you want.
How partners can help on days 2-3-4 of breastfeeding
By being there. Your body can be a source of comfort for your partner in time of stress. Your chest can keep the baby warm and relaxed while your partner takes a shower or eats. You can bring food and drinks, making sure they are within easy reach.
Keeping visitors to a minimum is helpful and protective. Welcome only those who cook and clean. Explain kindly that you all need sleep and rest. Thank them for coming next week not today. Give them jobs so they can help – maybe shopping or laundry. Tell them briefly all is well.
If your own feelings are all over the place because of past trauma, feel free to talk about it or not, and to get help from counselling services. You are important, not just as the partner / father / co-parent, but as a person yourself.
What the bottle feeding companies are doing
It’s incredible, but they will be in there undermining your confidence any way they can. You may be subjected to commercial pressures even in the hospital. Notice their logos and throw them in the bin whenever you can. When the doubt creeps in, think: which advert put it in your mind?
If you’re experiencing difficulties, get help.