Mothers should ensure that the baby is taking in enough milk, has not lost too much weight, and is not too sleepy.
Table: Typical Breastfeeding Patterns at Four Days of Age
(Links to more information about the topics in the above table: large milk supply; length of time on the breast; amount of time from the start of one feed to the start of the next; one or both breasts)
1) Breastfeeding patterns
Feeds are generally in three stages. Mothers will find the baby starting to spend longer in the alert (“I’m starving”) stage. Babies are often asleep at the end of a breastfeed.
Most babies need the second breast some of the time. If the mother has a large milk supply, babies tend to just want one breast at each feed and will feed more often. With a more average milk supply, babies are more likely to need both breasts and will feed a little less often. Both are normal behaviours.
2) Nutrition and growth
By two to four days after birth, the breasts will switch from producing smaller amounts of colostrum to larger amounts of transitional milk. This is known as the milk coming in. Mothers who have had a previous baby tend to notice this happening earlier than mothers who have delivered their first baby. With this change, the baby’s milk intake quickly increases and the baby begins to gain weight.
3) Behaviour at the breast
Offer the breast when the baby shows hunger signs. Now that the milk is in, the baby is taking larger amounts of milk at each breastfeed. While breastfeeding, the baby may now choke, gulp, click, and pant at the start of the breastfeed. These behaviours are normal.
Some babies won’t let go of the breast at the end of the breastfeeding session. Mothers should take the baby off the breast if the baby is not actively sucking or if more than 20 minutes have passed since the start of the feed.
Offer the other breast once the baby wakes and shows more hunger signs; this is usually within 10 minutes.
The baby should be content when awake and being held, and should be able to latch and suck when hungry and stay latched during the feeding. The baby should only let go of the breast for normal reasons.