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Your First 24 Hours as a Family

The moment you get to meet the newest member of your family, your motherly instinct is to hold and snuggle your new baby. Your instincts are right!

Holding baby skin to skin as much as possible is essential during the first 24 hours after baby is born. In fact, skin to skin helps baby get the right start with breastfeeding. Keep baby on your skin without being taken away for the first few hours or at least until after the first breastfeeding.

Skin to skin means baby is not swaddled in a blanket and able to lay right against your bare skin.

Why is skin to skin so important? There are many reasons. Here are just a few.

  • Skin to skin is the answer to most feeding issues in the first 24 hours.
  • Skin to skin helps baby to latch on the way that feels natural for them.
  • Skin to skin helps your hormone levels increase which is needed to make milk.
  • A sleepy baby (a baby that might not gain enough weight) will eat more frequently (sometimes every 1-2 hours) if on your skin.

To allow mom and baby time for skin to skin, keep baby in the room with you when at the hospital and continue skin to skin when you are home.

Breastfeeding during the first 24 hours will most likely be short sessions or look more like nuzzling. Baby will probably fall asleep at the breast after feeding and only eat on one side at a time.

How your baby is positioned or held during this time is important for a good latch. The Laid-Back position, also called Natural Breastfeeding or Biological Nursing, is best in the newborn stage.

laid back breastfeeding position

Having baby lay right on top of you while you’re in a semi-reclined position will help keep baby in proper alignment, latch on correctly, and lets baby control the nursing session. It’s also usually more comfortable for you and baby.

This position gives baby more control over moving their head. Find a bed or couch where you can lean back and place baby on your chest. Gravity will help keep baby in position.

You won’t “feel” your milk come in or feel like you have full breasts in the first day. Babies get everything they need from the small drops coming out (colostrum). Don’t feel you need to pump or give formula. Your body will make exactly the right amount. Until breastfeeding is well established, steer clear of pumping, bottles, or pacifiers.

Getting breastfeeding support in the first 24 hours is important to get started on the right foot.

WIC has Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) and Breastfeeding Peer Counselors that are available 24/7 to text, call, email or Zoom. There are also statewide Zoom breastfeeding classes and lactation support groups.

WIC will share many great resources including the HUG Your Baby Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success. The Roadmap includes short videos for each stage of development. Check out this video to prepare for birth and the very first time you get to breastfeed.

Video Source: HUG Your Baby by Jan Tedder