How secret can they be, you ask? They're just little bundles of flesh, newly birthed. And heck, just learning to open their eyes and breathe for Gods' sake, what can they know, or DO?
Human newborns are quite amazing, actually. They are born changing their circulation and breathing circuits, literally learning to transition from living like a fish to a human. They have ducts, or openings, that close, and new ones that open. Just watch as they change from that dusky color to a rosy shade of pink. And that just happens over a few minutes. Houdini couldn't have managed a trick like that!
Even with the miraculous physical changes, babies are born with abilities to bond with their parents and feed. Yup, from birth if babies are held skin to skin on mom's chest, and left undisturbed, most will do a breast crawl, and find it themselves!
Well, those babies must be smart, you say, or special. No way. All babies have very similar behaviors in the newborn period, regardless of ethnicity, country of birth, color of skin. Even premature babies will exhibit behaviors similar to their born-on-time peers. If breastfeeding is on your to-do list, learning these changing behaviors can greatly increase your chance of success.
1) Did I say skin to skin? Well, I'll say it a gazillion more times, because it works. Skin to skin is baby's habitat, their safe transition spot. Skin to skin has been studied extensively, and it doesn't just feel good. Babies stabilize their blood sugars on mom immediately after birth, they regulate their temperatures and their breathing. And, babies left skin to skin:
*Breastfeed earlier, better, and for longer durations.
*Moms has more milk earlier, and later. Breasts go into "milk-making mode" when they detect a baby nearby!
*They cry less, and parents can respond to their needs sooner.
If your baby is taken to the NICU after birth, no worries! You can offer skin to skin there when you both are ready. It's never too late.
Yes, Partners can practice skin to skin, too! They won't make milk, but they're warm and cozy. And skin to skin isn't just for the immediate birth. A word to Grandmothers, don't kill the messenger, but.. AVOID THOSE CUTE NEWBORN CLOTHES IN THE HOSPITAL! Babies held skin to skin will always help their mom make more milk, so ditch the 4 layers of onesies, and footies, swaddle blankets, and hand mittens. Keep em' naked, but for a diaper and a hat. Your breasts will keep them warm, no worries, and your milk supply will thank you later.
2) Babies have a sleep marathon after birth, for about 24 hours. They sleep, they might move their hands, cry a little. You'll rush then to the almighty boob, and.... Back to sleep. THIS IS NORMAL. Hear me, parents. It's a rough ride out for baby, too. Babies are perfectly equipped with nutritional reserves to go that 24 hours or so with very little. In fact, their stomach volume is about 5-7 miles, or the size of a cherry. A cherry! What to do during this sleepfest? Sleep yourself! If not, don't leave baby wrapped up like a burrito in the crib; wear her! Remember that skin to skin? Keep it up, in between food and rest for you and your partner. And learn to hand express some colostrum. Hand express, move even tiny drops of milk onto your fingers, and give that baby some colostrum Chapstick. Do this every hour or two during the sleepfest , and when she wakes up, you've got a baby well accustomed and imprinted on some yummy food waiting, as shes tasted it in her sleep!
3) "I had a "good baby", and now he's miserable. What did we do wrong!?" Ah ha! You've reached the almighty "cluster feeding" stage. After that 24 hours, give or take, your baby begins to really wake up. Think of this....
"You've been floating in a warm, happy, floaty place, rocked awake, asleep, heard soft whooshy noises, had some fun fingers and toes to play with and soothe yourself with. And now? You home is gone. It's bright, cold, and you have this need to eat? And poop? What's eating? What is a stomach and why is it yelling at me to eat? Where's my home? Where's my 24 womb service? I smell her, she's over there, and she has good stuff to offer. I just want to be HOME." ( P.S. That's your baby's perspective )
That's clusterfeeding for you. It's a normal developmental phase, baby will want to feed, get on, suckle a bit or a lot , then fall asleep. You gently try to put him down, and he cries again. THIS WILL PASS. And hear me parents, it does NOT mean you "don't have enough milk", and it doesn't mean "he's using me a pacifier". As a matter of fact, you have plenty, he's just calling his order in for more milk in two, three more weeks. Remember, what he takes, you make. So more milk out now means more later. He's just being a smartypants, making his own milk supply. You knew he was a genius, didn't you?
Understanding these important phases in the newborn period, and how to respond, will help you avoid unnecessary worry, and ultimate, supplementation. A note about supplementation...if for some reason your baby needs earlier feelings due to low blood sugars, ASK if you can hand express some of your own milk for supplementation. If not, ask that any formula given be offered with an alternative feeding method, and in small amounts. And ask to see the IBCLC on staff as soon as possible to get back on track.