Newborn Baby Breastfeeding For The First 24-48 Hours

The first 48 hours with your baby are some of the most special moments you will share. From the moment they are born, they are in your care, and one of the most unique parts of your relationship is breastfeeding. While beginning breastfeeding can be daunting, especially for first-time mothers, getting the process started doesn’t have to be a difficult endeavor.

Why Does The Baby Needs To Be Fed In The First 24-48 Hours Of Delivery


When your newborn enters the world, they’ll need all the comfort that they can get. Skin-to-skin contact is vital as it will help keep them warm and steady their breathing rate. Cuddling with them is an important first step. But soon after, they’ll need their first breastfeed. Once your baby latches on to your nipple, you will nourish baby with the first milk; ‘colostrum’. It is golden-yellow in color and thick in viscosity. It is also a very concentrated food, so your baby will only need a teaspoonful at each feed. Colostrum will be produced for the first few days, before being replaced by a heavier, more consistent supply of nutrient-rich breastmilk.  The first breastfeed after delivery has several functions when it comes to the growth of newborns. It contains antibodies to protect the newborn against multiple diseases. Since newborns have small, immature digestive systems, colostrum acts as a laxative to produce the baby’s first stool, which will clear excess waste byproducts from within. It also contains a number of growth factors that deliver nutrients in a low-volume form. If you are worried about not producing colostrum, don’t worry. Your body will produce it in ample amounts right before birth.

Trust the skin-to-skin contact


Mums and their babies need to be together to enable the best start to breastfeeding. From the moment of birth – when a baby is placed on mum’s naked chest (known as "skin-to-skin"). This is how the powerful "mothering" hormone, prolactin, is stimulated.


  • Prolactin triggers a good milk supply, even if the baby is not interested in feeding initially.

  • The closeness of her baby stimulates the ‘love’ hormone, oxytocin, which helps mum fall in love with her baby.

  • Oxytocin has a calming effect on both mum and baby, encouraging the release of hormones which counteract the effects of the adrenaline produced during birth.

  • Even if a baby does not feed initially, his or her digestion will be stimulated by instinctive ‘rooting’ and ‘nuzzling’ behavior against mum’s breast.

  • Skin-to-skin contact at birth encourages further neuro-behavioral responses from the baby, such as crawling to the nipple, hand-to-mouth movements and massaging the breast.

  • Dad can provide skin-to-skin if mum can’t – there’s no time limit and it’s not a ‘one-off’ activity. It should be unhurried and uninterrupted as far as possible. Skin-to-skin with dad reinforces father-baby bonding.

How to know if your baby is ready to feed


  • Rooting is when something touches baby’s nose, cheeks or lips and your baby responds by opening his mouth and sticking his tongue forward and down in readiness for scooping a large mouthful of breast.
  • Sucking is triggered when something touches baby’s palate, which is why baby needs to take a large mouthful of breast so that the nipple reaches the back of the roof of the mouth, stimulating sucking.
  • Swallowing is triggered when baby’s mouth fills with colostrum or milk. Hearing and seeing a baby swallow during a feed is an important way of assessing how well he is feeding.

How often should a baby feed in the first 48 hours?

  • Babies are often alert in the first few hours following birth and keen to have their first breastfeed.
  • Some babies may need encouragement if mum had pain relief, such as pethidine, in labour (this crosses the placenta and may make the baby sleepy).
  • The average amount of colostrum taken at the first feed is up to 5mls or the equivalent of a teaspoon.
  • Healthy term babies might not feed very much in the first 48 hours. They use their energy stores until mum’s milk levels start to increase from the second day.
  • The mother should offer her baby her breast whenever he or she is awake and showing signs of wanting to feed.

    All babies are different – some may only feed a few times in the first 24 hours while others may feed up to eight times. It’s important for mum and baby to not be separated at this time so she can get to know her baby and recognise their feeding cues.


What if the birth doesn’t go to plan?


You could have the most elaborate, foolproof birth plan and a thing or two could still go wrong. Well, that’s perfectly fine. It is impossible to predict how your baby’s birth will go. You just have to be open to any possible last-minute changes that may arise.

All you need to know are that some medications or medical interventions during childbirth may affect the baby’s first breastfeed. Ask your healthcare professional about any impact to breastfeeding the different types of pain relief and assisted delivery may have. You and your birth partner should be well informed before making any impromptu decisions.

If you can’t establish breastfeeding in the first hour, don’t worry. Despite not having an ideal start, moms and babies can very well establish a breastfeeding bond sooner or later. Your healthcare professional will be able to support and guide you with any additional queries you may have. If you run into trouble with breastfeeding a newborn, you can always consult a lactation specialist or breastfeeding consultant to get back on track.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions, no matter how insignificant they may sound. Healthcare professionals have heard them all before, and will be more than happy to help you on your journey of motherhood.

Do I need a newborn feeding schedule?


Breastfeeding after birth is a task on its own! Maintaining a schedule with newborn babies; even more so. Make sure the baby isn’t getting overtired by putting them to sleep at the 45-minute mark. In a perfect world, they will sleep for 2 to 4 hours, and then wake up for their next feed. This should buy you some time to get some much-needed rest! Ideally, newborn babies should be feeding about 8 to 12 times a day, but it depends a lot on their hunger. For the first few weeks, you will be feeding on demand. At first, you may feel like you are nursing around the clock, especially with babies feeding on demand. Also, they may take quite long to feed (around 20 minutes) as they learn to latch on, and your let down reflex is stimulated. That is completely normal, because by 1-2 months, your baby will be feeding only 7 to 9 times in a day, and your breast milk will also come easier. These feeds will be more efficient as the baby should take around 10 minutes to finish feeding.

Here’s a basic feeding schedule for the first year:

0-2 months – Every 2 to 3 hours

2-4 months – Every 3 to 4 hours

4-6 months – Every 4 to 5 hours

6+ months - Every 4 to 5 hours


Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance. Philips AVENT cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.

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