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Feeds and nappies in the first week

Your newborn's first feeds

newborn feeding

Colostrum is a thick, yellowish colour and more concentrated than mature milk. It is rich in protein and antibodies that help to protect your baby from illness. Colostrum also helps your baby to pass their first meconium poo. 

At birth, your baby’s stomach is tiny and they only need a small amount of milk in the first few days. The amount of colostrum your breasts make is enough to meet their needs. Milk is even there if your baby is born prematurely.  

Making milk in the early days

Between 2 and 5 days after your baby is born, there is a big increase in milk production. This change is sometimes known as milk coming in. Gradually, your colostrum is replaced by mature breastmilk, which is thin and bluish-white in appearance. The amount of milk you make increases too.

The more often your baby breastfeeds in the first few days, the sooner you will bring in your full breastmilk supply. 

How much milk will my baby take?

During the early days, it is common for babies to feed frequently. Some babies will feed every hour or two, others a little less frequently. Breastmilk is easy to digest and babies have tiny stomachs, so they need to breastfeed often. The amount of milk taken before getting full is only very small. 

Healthy term breastfed babies tend to drink these volumes each feed during the first week:  
  • 1 day old, 2 to 10 mL  
  • 1 to 2 days old, 5 to 15 mL  
  • 2 to 3 days old, 15 to 30 mL  
  • 3 to 4 days old, 30 to 60 mL. 

In the following week or two after birth, the size of your baby's stomach increases so they can take a larger volume. Your babies may feed more often to stimulate the supply and feed for longer to feel full. This is a normal part of establishing a breastmilk supply. 

Most babies need 8 to 14 feeds or more every 24 hours in the early weeks.

How often will my baby feed?

Your baby’s tummy is tiny and breastmilk is perfectly designed to meet their needs so it's quickly and easily digested. Feeding frequently in the early days and weeks helps make sure that your baby is getting enough and that your body is making the right amount of milk. 

It is common for newborns to breastfeed at least 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. This will mean that your baby will be feeding very frequently – every 2 to 3 hours, including at night. (You count the time between feeds from the beginning of one feed to the beginning of the next feed). 

Sometimes one breast may be enough for your baby, and other times they may need two. Sometimes your baby will go to sleep between feeds and sometimes they will be awake and want to feed again. Many newborns have periods each day where they feed very frequently for a few hours. Often these cluster feeding periods are followed by a longer period of sleep.  

If your baby is extra sleepy, you may need to wake them to make sure they get the milk they need. 

Be guided by your baby's feeding cues and feed them whenever they show an interest. This is the way to ensure that your milk supply keeps up with your baby's needs.

Many new mums worry whether their baby is getting enough milk. We can't measure how much a baby takes when they breastfeed but even in the first week, there are some reliable signs that your baby is getting enough.  

Your newborn's first nappies

newborn nappies

Your baby's first poo

The first poo your baby has will be black and sticky. This is from the meconium that's in their digestive tract before birth.  

By day 2

By day 2, baby's poo should be softer but still dark in colour. Over the next few days, the poos change to a greenish-brown and then to a mustard-yellow. As the colour changes they become less sticky and larger in amount. 

Your baby should have at least 1 wet nappy on day one, at least 2 on day two, at least 3 on day three, at least 4 on day four and at least 5 on day five and each day after that. 

Over the first few days

Over the first few days, salts of uric acid in your baby's wee  may leave a rusty, orange-red stain on the nappy. This is normal during this time. If you see this after day 4, check with your doctor. 

From day 5 onwards

Provided your baby is only having breastmilk:  

  • They will have at least 5 heavily wet disposable, or 6-8 very wet cloth nappies in 24 hours.  

  • Baby's urine (wee) will be pale. If your baby's urine is dark and smelly, this is a sign that they aren't taking in enough milk. 

  • Baby will do plenty of soft poos of a yellow-mustard colour. Under the age of 6-8 weeks, babies usually have three or more runny poos a day, about the size of the palm of your baby's hand. 

This video from our Breastfeeding Basics series explains what you can expect in the first week.

© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022

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