To learn more about getting breastfeeding off to a good start and know what to expect in the first two hours postpartum please see my earlier post in this What to Expect series. You can also learn more about what to expect that first night home from the hospital (regardless of the timing of that due to a normal vaginal birth, surgical birth, or bringing a preemie home) here. To learn more about days 2-7 postpartum please see this post.
Now that you’re home from the hospital, your milk has transitioned and is changing to more mature milk, and you’re starting to get to know your baby more you may start to feel a little bit of a groove and your baby may be starting to get more of a routine (or not!). Your husband or partner may be back to work or may have a little more time off. You no longer have the call button that you had at the hospital and now is the time to call in those favors that everyone left (“If you need anything let me know.”). Postpartum is the best time to learn to ask for those favors because taking care of you and your baby are the top priorities, even over dinner. I recommend during pregnancy creating a list of duties, chores, errands, and meal preparation so that when someone is visiting you can encourage them to do a task before getting to see baby. In many other cultures outside of the United States women have some type of a “laying in” period that other women come and take care of the household chores so mother can feed baby frequently and work on recovering. A wise midwife, who “caught” my third baby (Lisa Lehrer in Corvallis, Oregon), encouraged me to stay down as much as I was able in the first 2-4 weeks postpartum and promised me that if I did I would feel much better at 6 months postpartum than if I had been running errands, doing chores, etc. She was absolutely correct. I felt MUCH better with her at six months postpartum than I did with my first two children.
At this point your baby may begin sleeping up to a 4 hour stretch during the day or night (maybe, it’s totally normal not to have a stretch for a while though). If baby is gaining well and having enough diapers letting baby sleep is usually ok. You may need to wake up a sleepy baby though if your baby is not up to birth weight by 10 days or has lost more than 10% of their birth weight, is jaundiced, or was premature or has special circumstances. If you need to wake baby up, and baby is difficult to arouse, here are some ideas to help:
One other note that is important in the first two weeks. Babies lose weight after birth. It should be 7% of their birth weight or less. It can be up to a 10% weight loss. More than this and it’s very important to get immediate help from an IBCLC and your doctor to figure out if there is an issue with breastfeeding (even if you aren’t having any pain). If you received IV fluids during labor baby may lose more weight than if no IV fluids were given. Baby should be back up to birth weight by 10 days, 2 weeks at the latest. If baby is not back up to birth weight by 2 weeks it’s important to see an IBCLC right away to assess for any breastfeeding issues.
Who was the biggest help to you postpartum?
If you live in the Oklahoma City, Mustang, or Yukon area and need breastfeeding help or would like to attend breastfeeding classes please see my website for more information. You may also contact me here.