Most babies are quite mucousy for their first 24 hours, some even having ‘blue turns’ when it sticks in their throat.
Don’t worry, babies are very good at getting fluid out of their airway. They’re okay on their back and will not choke. Babies, as I will say many times in this book, are very well designed for birth and its aftermath.
Babies develop red wheals on their skin in the first day or so. These can look like mosquito bites. They are more common in areas that are in contact with nappies or clothes.
This rash is called ‘toxic erythema’, and is a response of the skin to contact, especially with textiles such as cotton. It is harmless, not irritating and will go away without treatment. Your baby does not have an allergy.
Milk comes in at about two and a half days. Before that, babies are all over the place with their feeds, sometimes feeding constantly, sometimes sleeping for long periods.
Your breasts produce only a dribble of colostrum for the first couple of days. So, for some babies, there’s not a lot to wake up for. Let him do whatever he wants to do. The milk will come in anyway. Your job is to protect your nipples from damage from your baby’s little mouth.
Get a midwife to help you attach the baby to the breast.
Babies need to learn the correct breastfeeding technique – how to ‘latch’ on to the breast, with mouth wide, enveloping the areola. If they ‘nipple-suck’, they can quickly damage the skin of their mother’s nipples.
When you feel your breasts changing and filling, it means there are about 12 hours until the arrival of the milk. Then your baby will start to feed frequently and greedily – he may seem insatiable (the ‘feeding frenzy’). He’ll be on and off the breast continually for 24 hours. Let him feed.
Despite the way he behaves, he does not have a pain in his tummy, and he does not ‘have wind’. He just wants to feed and induce your milk flow. Let him.
To start with, babies prefer to feed at night and sleep during the day.
Your baby knows that night feeds induce the hormone prolactin (which boosts milk supply) better than day feeds do. When the milk is in and the supply is secure the baby will get day and night sorted out.
Babies are ‘marine animals’ in the womb and are waterlogged when they are first born. They ‘dry out’ in the first few days and can lose up to 10 per cent of their birth weight.
That’s why milk takes a few days to come in. Other animals’ milk comes in with delivery, but humans need the delay to dry out. Don’t worry about the weight loss. It’s normal and it’s only water and meconium.
There is no such thing as overfeeding your baby.
Your baby is just trying to induce enough milk flow. Overfull babies vomit. It’s okay.
You can’t cuddle your baby too much.
Your baby has just left the warmth and security of your womb. He wonders where he is. He can’t hear the familiar sound of your heartbeat that filled his life when nestling inside you. When he’s upset, pick him up, cuddle him against your chest and put his ear against your heartbeat. He will settle.
You can’t spoil your baby at this age.
Babies can’t have too much, or too close, contact with their mother. They can’t have too much attention. They cannot learn bad habits for months. Disregard all advice to the contrary.
Once the milk comes in, the snuffles and mucousiness may restart. Your baby does not have a cold.
When your milk comes in the volume of milk increases enormously. The baby may ‘siphon’ the milk into his nose and sinuses. To protect the delicate mucous lining of these structures from the milk (or even gastric acid, if he vomits), the walls produce mucus. It can last for weeks, and after you go home, it may be worse at night.
All babies vomit. However, they should not vomit bile.
Regurgitation is normal in the baby. It doesn’t mean he will suffer from reflux or that he is unwell. If he vomits bile (bright green vomit), he might need attention – call the staff.
It’s not blood in the urine.
Most babies pass pink crystals of ‘urate’ in the urine in the first few days. The red stain in the nappy is not blood and is quite normal. It will go when the baby gets more fluid after the milk comes in.
NEVER give up breastfeeding and start formula at 2 am!
Things often seem terrible in the middle of the night – in the light of day, most of them don’t seem so bad. If you give up at night, when you’re tired, upset and in pain and your baby’s screaming non-stop, you may well wish you hadn’t the next morning. Make the decision in the cold light of day – this gives you a much better chance to make sure it’s the right one!
Most babies have yellow skin (jaundice) by day 3.
The jaundice is caused by the breaking down of blood, which is a normal process that happens in the body all the time. When the baby is in the womb, the mother’s liver processes and deals with the breakdown products from her blood and her baby’s. After birth, the baby’s liver takes a few days to learn to process it, hence the jaundice level rises for 3-5 days before settling.
Babies do not need lots of sleep to grow.
That’s a myth. They grow anyway.