Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! You don’t have to worry whether your healthy full term, exclusively breast feeding newborn is nursing well the first week of life after birth. This will be apparent with adequate diaper output. Simply put, what goes in, must come out. On day one there will need to be at least one wet diaper during the very first 24 hours. A wet diaper is the equivalent of three tablespoons of liquid, so it should feel heavy. This first wet diaper may be colored red or orange, which is normal. The rest of the wet diapers will all be colorless. There will also be some large and small poops. Look for at least one poopy diaper that is larger than a large coin. It will be black and sticky.
On the second day look for at least two heavy wet colorless diapers and at least two sizable poopy diapers. The color of the poop may start to change from black to green and be kind of a pasty consistency.
By the third day the wet diaper count should be at least three and same for the poopy diapers. So look for three poopy diapers that are more green than black.
The fourth day continues to increase in the same way with at least four wet diapers, and normal poopy diapers should continue to be three to four, but changing to yellow or mustard color.
Look for at least five wet diapers on day five, and three to four poopy diapers that will be yellow in color and can be runny or seedy as milk comes in and matures.
Days six and seven may see diapers increase to as many as a dozen, maybe even more, but look for at least six to eight heavy wet diapers. Poopy diapers typically remain around three every day until about six weeks, which is the minimum to be expected but may also count to a dozen especially if antibiotics were given, a stool softener is taken or the baby seems to need to eat often. Babies do need to eat between every hour to two and a half hours, with one slightly longer stretch somewhere during a 24 hour period.
Baby behavior that indicates satiety often includes self-detachment from the breast anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes (feeds will get shorter), contentment between feeds, including relaxed hands as opposed to mouthing their little fists, and will be ready for the next feed between one to two and a half hours at most. Bottle fed babies typically go three hours between feeds, usually due to overfeeding which can be difficult to avoid.
Babies demonstrating these things will gain between five and seven ounces after the first week, every week, sometimes more, surpassing their birth weight before their second week of life. The Pediatrician will monitor weight gain closely, watching baby’s growth curve. Always trust your instincts as the expert on your baby. Always reach out to your Pediatrician for any concerns.
Please note that breastfeeding also needs to be pain-free and comfortable. Although common, pain with nursing is never considered normal, but rather an indication that something is not quite right. Do not accept pain as part of your nursing journey no matter what anyone says and seek the assistance of a knowledgeable Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
American Breastfeeding Foundation is dedicated to providing access to education and lactation care to ALL vulnerable breastfeeding families. If you are struggling with breastfeeding or have questions, American Breast Feeding Foundation is here to help.
René Moore is a registered IBCLC in private practice in Phoenix Arizona. Her interest and passion for breastfeeding began in 1996 upon becoming a mother. In 2000 she became a La Leche League Leader and still leads local meetings for groups she started in her area, then also became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to be able to help more mothers, babies and families. She’s been performing in-home lactation consultation visits for well over a decade and regularly attends procedures when requested by parents and welcomed by providers.
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