Feeding Patterns

If I don't hear swallowing in the first few days is the baby getting anything?

In the early days, when the baby is getting colostrum, many mothers don't hear swallows. This doesn't mean that your baby is not getting milk. Often you will be able to see swallows as your baby's jaw drops closer down to his chest for an instant. It is this drop in the chin that tells you that colostrum is going into his mouth; it may look like his suck is deeper and longer. Often babies then rest for a couple of seconds before continuing a pattern of little sucks-dropped jaw-pause.

What is the most important thing I can do to ensure a good milk supply?

Allowing your baby to suckle often and long enough to remove milk are the best ways to establish a good milk supply. Helping your baby obtain a deep mouthful of breast is also important. For more detailed information: Information Sheet #469: Establishing Your Milk Supply  or contact a local Leader.

What is colostrum?

Colostrum is the 'first milk' produced by your breasts, starting during pregnancy. It is a concentrated form of "mature milk", which is very high in protein, antibodies and other protective components that are important for your newborn. It is thicker than mature milk and often has a yellowish colour to it. It is produced in small amounts (10-100 mL/24 hours), which is perfect for your newborn's tiny tummy. The smaller volumes also give your baby a chance to learn to nurse without being overwhelmed by a large flow of milk in the first few days.

Do babies have a regular feeding pattern right from birth?

No. In the first 24 hours, healthy babies can have a wide variety of patterns but a common one is to suckle at the breast eagerly in the first hour or two and then have a sleepy phase with very little suckling. This initial sleepy phase is followed by an active phase where they may want to suckle very frequently for 3-5 hours. This cluster feeding often happens after 20 hours, or on the second night of life. It is normal not to get much sleep that second night! Newborn babies generally have nursing sessions at least 8 times in 24 hours starting on the second day.

To encourage, promote and provide breastfeeding, chest feeding and human milk feeding support and educational opportunities as an important contribution to the health of children, families and society