Breastfeeding Day One: What to Expect

How do you know what to do on day one of breastfeeding?? As an IBCLC, nurse, and 3 time mom, you might think that I have breastfeeding down to a science. While it’s true I have lots of tips and tricks, every breastfeeding experience can be so different! This series came about when I had my third baby. I wanted to share my experiences in real time and while I had another new breastfeeding journey fresh on my mind. So, this is post about day one in the series that covers the real experiences I had during my first week of breastfeeding!

(This post was originally a video. Check it out!)

I’m right here with you!

Literally, am right there now in my life. I just had my new little one three days ago! So, I can totally relate to what you are experiencing or going to experience. As a Lactation Counselor and a IBCLC I know a lot about breastfeeding, but your brain gets mushy when there is a lot going on with life and your hormones and baby. Mom brain, you know! That’s why I wrote this series while it was fresh on my mind to give you the most real and raw tips and tricks!

First Hour on Breastfeeding Day One

The first hour of birth looks different depending on a lot of things.

  • Where you birthed
  • If you had any complications
  • If you had a vaginal delivery
  • If you had a C-Section
  • If baby went to the NICU

Hopefully you are able to do some skin to skin with your new little one. Usually they put the baby right on you immediately and ideally that is what you would want to do. The first hour for both mom and baby is when you are both the most alert, so this is a great time for the first breastfeeding.

At this time you are also dealing with some other items, like delivery of the placenta, maybe some stitches and finishing up that birth process. Ideally that stuff goes quickly, in 25-30 minutes.

While that finishes up, you can put baby onto your chest and have them scoot around and find the nipple themselves. This process is called the breast crawl. You can watch some videos as watch how this process works and how easy it is for them to find the nipple themselves.

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Hospital Delivery

If you are in the hospital, utilize the Midwives, Lactation Counselors, doctors, nurses, whatever is available to help you. They will be able to help you get that baby latched on correctly. That first latch is fun though. Be really patient and let them take their time. It will be a special moment there.

We are not concerned about how much baby eats at this point. This is more about exploring, latching, bonding, all that good stuff!

Then after that first hour, everyone might get really sleepy. Your hormones are starting to come down and it’s a great time for a nap for everyone! So try to get that first breast feeding in that first hour or so.

If you are separated from your baby, that might look like pumping or hand expressing some claustrum. Hand expression is usually easier because there is such a little amount at this point which is totally normal.

Start Feeding

Babies are really sleepy that first day, so you may have to wake your baby to get them to feed. You don’t want them going too long between feeds. Every few hours, if the baby hasn’t woke up, you do need to arouse them, change their diaper and have a little feed at the breast.

Now your milk hasn’t transitioned and come in large quantities yet, but your body is making claustrum. The quantity is not a lot, but the quality is dynamite. So if you are expecting the milk to just start flowing, relax, it’s going to take a few days. That is totally normal. You are still making claustrum which is exactly what your baby needs at this point. Trust that it’s enough and that your milk will come in when it should.

Keep in mind that your baby’s stomach is not very big. It’s about the size of a cherry. It does not take a lot to fill it. About a teaspoon is all that they need in their little bellies that first day or two.

If You Can’t Latch Right Away

If you do want to hand express a little milk, you can feed it to your baby from a little medicine cup, you can syringe feed it to them, so don’t feel you need to jump straight to a bottle if you decide to hand express some milk.

Hours 2-24 of Breastfeeding Day One: More Feeding!

Latching them onto the breast and letting them suck as much as they want that first 24 hours is a great way to bring your milk in and make sure that the baby is fed.

So, since there is not a lot of quantity that you are putting into the babies belly, it is normal that the baby will want to eat quite often. It doesn’t take long to digest a teaspoon of fluid. It’s very normal for baby to want to eat often, and great to help get your milk supply started. This will continue for this first 24 hours.

It is also very common to get cramps or contractions while you are feeding. This is just biology’s way to help that uterus shrink back down and to expel anything that is left behind. This is very normal. With my first baby, that was not something I was totally expecting. Sometimes I even had to stop and breathe through them. It was more than I thought it should be.

It is also common to be accompanied by some vaginal bleeding. This is totally normal and your bodies way to contract back down. These cramps do tend to get more intense with each baby that you have, so file that information somewhere. They are manageable, just something to expect.

Utilize the Help on Breastfeeding Day One

If you are in the hospital, you will have some help available. You will also have people coming in to check on you, wake you up, check your blood pressure and check on the baby. That can be a little bit annoying. Now a days, baby’s are rooming in with mothers so that means that there is a bassinet next to the bed and your baby is going to be with you throughout the night. Which is a good thing. You do not want to be co-sleeping in a hospital bed. It is not safe because they are not designed for that. Be cautious there.

You are better off asking for help in those early days when the problems are simple rather than waiting for them to go too long and then face a bigger issue down the road. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

If you are having a home birth, make sure to know your recourses and where to go, who to ask, who can help you, especially in those early days.

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You Made it Through Breastfeeding Day One!

I think the hardest part about those first 24 hours is that you aren’t making much progress or doing anything. Your milk isn’t in, you are trying to latch the baby, you are also dealing with your own healing and you are probably sore Make sure you are staying on top of your pain levels and resting. You might just be wondering if you are doing it right, but just try to relax and latch the baby whenever they want. that is really all you are supposed to be doing.


Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your healing is important, too. Having a support system, a partner or a mother or friend, utilizing the nurses, anything like that could make a huge difference.

Your first day is really just getting to know your baby. You don’t need to worry about doing anything but latching your baby, resting, taking care of yourself and getting to know your new little one. Take everything in stride. Everyone’s experience look a bit different but you are making YOUR story. Enjoy that new little life!

For the whole series of what to expect during the first week of breastfeeding, check out the links below!

Breastfeeding Week One

First Day

Second Day

Third Day

Fourth Day

Fifth Day

Breastfeeding Day One: What to Expect