As your baby’s arrival nears, chances are your doctor is talking more and more about exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of baby’s life and, at a minimum, at least the first week of life. But what does exclusively breastfed mean?
Simply put, it means that your baby gets nothing but your milky goodness. No water, formula, juice, or food. Everything your baby needs can be found in your breastmilk. It’s a living substance with antibodies and even stem cells and every drop your baby gets is the best possible nourishment.
The more your baby suckles the more milk your produce, so exclusively breastfeeding, particularly in the first few weeks of life, is incredibly important because it impacts your milk supply throughout your journey. As your baby suckles prolactin is sent to the breasts through the bloodstream to tell them to produce more milk.
How will I know baby is getting enough milk?
Most moms worry about whether their baby is getting enough milk. The first couple of days baby’s tummy is very small (just the size of a cherry the first day!). Your body produces colostrum, an incredibly nutrient-rich first milk for your baby that they get until your major milk comes in. Colostrum is an amazing substance that provides your baby with a ton of antibodies to boost her immune system, as well as all the nutrients she needs.
Newborn babies also have plenty of stores in their body of glycogen in their liver, extra fat, and are well hydrated, so waiting for your milk to come in isn’t a problem for them.
Night Two of Breastfeeding
By baby’s second night you’ll notice your baby’s appetite takes a huge swing upward. They’ll be fussy and want to nurse what feels like all the time. Don’t worry about this. You aren’t doing anything wrong, but if you need to ask someone for help reach out to your hospital’s lactation consultant.
This extra nursing is how your baby is telling your body that it needs milk. By night three your body will get the picture and baby will get the milk they need.
By day four, your baby will need 15-20 times the amount of milk, which your body will produce as long as you exclusively breastfeed the first few days.
The Benefits of Exclusively Breastfeeding
Exclusively breastfeeding gives your baby an amazing start at life. When you breastfeed you provide your baby with nutrients and protective factors, growth factors, and hormones that are needed to grow and be healthy, including 190 different fatty acids (not just DHA and ARA). It also helps to keep your baby’s gut healthy by lining it and stopping bacteria, viruses, and undigested proteins from getting into their bloodstream. This is how breastmilk reduces the risk of allergies or infections from occurring
Because breastmilk acts as a natural laxative (not in a bad way), your baby will pass their dark first stool faster (meconium). In doing so, you’ll reduce the chance of jaundice.
Breastfeeding takes practice, and our hope is that you read these posts and realize there is support out there. Whether it’s reaching out to a lactation consultant or continuing to read our educational articles, remember that you’re not alone in this journey.
If you are a Washington, D.C. or Maryland mom and need a breastpump covered by insurance, contact us. We can help you find the right pump for your needs and handle all of the paperwork so you can focus on preparing for your little one.