Within a few hours of birth, a baby is typically alert and ready to suck. At this time, he or she is most ready for their first breastfeeding. Referred to as first foods or liquid gold, colostrum is often yellow; however, it may be clear, and it often looks more like blood than milk because it contains protective white blood cells that are capable of attacking harmful bacteria in the baby’s body, according to the Baby Center.
Although the amount is small, the mother’s breasts contain a quantity of colostrum close to the amount in which a newborn baby’s stomach can hold. The first breastfeeding session should take place shortly after birth. Many specialists believe that if the first breastfeeding is delayed much beyond the first two hours of life, the baby is more prone to be somewhat reluctant to take the breast.
Colostrum is an important first food for babies as it safeguards the body by forming a seal to the inside of his or her intestines, which helps to prevent bacteria growth. In addition, colostrum provides the baby with high levels of antibodies from the mother, according to Women’s Health.
Mothers who choose breastfeeding over formula thus offer their babies protection from sickness, as colostrum is the ideal food for a newborn’s first few days of life. Colostrum is high in protein and low in sugar and fat, according to Healthy Children, which makes it easy for the baby’s tiny body to digest.
In addition, colostrum helps to stimulate babies to have their early bowel movements. These early bowel movements are called merconium, which is a black and tarry stool that contains bilirubin, the substance that causes newborn jaundice. By breastfeeding frequently, the mother is giving her newborn colostrum, which will help to eliminate bilirubin from the baby’s body and may lessen the incidence and severity of jaundice.
Shortly after birth, the baby will likely latch on to the breast and suck eagerly, with minimal assistance. He or she will probably be more willing to nurse if they have skin-to-skin contact with mom, according to the International Breastfeeding Centre. If the baby is allowed to snuggle against the mother’s body, between her arm and chest, he or she will be more receptive to the breast. While it is unlikely that the baby will get cold due to the mother’s body heat, a blanket can be placed over the baby after he or she begins to nurse. Mothers should not be alarmed by the purple color of the baby’s hands and feet. This is normal. The skin discoloration does not occur because the baby is cold; it occurs due to changes in blood circulation that take place at birth.
Breastfeeding the baby, without delay, also has benefits for the mother, as it stimulates the action of hormones that cause the uterus to contract and remain firm after the baby is born, according to Fit Pregnancy. These contractions may help speed delivery of the placenta and can minimize blood loss following birth. During the first few days, after giving birth, it is normal to feel contractions or after pains while breastfeeding the baby.
It can be difficult for mothers to establish a breastfeeding routine while in the hospital. This is normal, and it should not discourage mothers from breastfeeding. Once at home, in a more relaxed environment, mothers often find it easier to establish a successful breastfeeding routine.
By Trixie Dillwood