Whichever method you choose to feed your baby, during the early days you will need to feed him/her every 2-3 hours. Babies have a physiological need to wake frequently to feed and breastfeeding is ideal to support this because it adjusts to suit the baby’s needs and development.
In the first few days when his tummy is the size of a cherry, he will need frequent feeds of colostrum which is low in volume and high in nutrients and enhances his immune system.
As the milk comes in, and increases in volume, the tummy grows quickly to accommodate the larger volume of mature milk which has a higher percentage of fat to help baby sleep and grow.
However, he will still need 10-12 feeds a day so while you may notice some slightly longer gaps, often in the morning and after the first night feed, at other times he will still feed 2-3 hourly.
Added to this is the fact that prolactin, which is a key hormone in the production of milk, is at its highest at night so you can see why it is important to feed through the night.
Sorry bad news I know!
So how to cope? The first thing is to really rest during the first couple of weeks when everything is getting established. This means being in bed part of the day and having everything done for you so that you can sleep when your baby sleeps. Sometimes women feel bright and try to carry on as normal but this is not really a great idea since the tiredness invariably catches up with you. Eat and drink really well (three good meals and healthy snacks plus plenty of water) and try to have someone who will help with nappy changing, providing food and drink for you and helping you to settle your baby. This doesn’t mean a nanny or maternity nurse but your partner, mum, mum in law or similar. A doula might also provide this support. https://findmydoula.co.uk/
Most women want the baby near them and enjoy this closeness at this special time but having someone to help can enhance the experience
The other issue is to be aware that a baby who is feeding well at 7-10 days should not need to be at the breast for hours at a time. All this does is tire you and the baby. So ensure that you get help to latch the baby well and observe what an effective feed looks like. As time goes on you will still benefit from a sleep each day and some couples do a rota at night where the dad is first on call for the baby waking for a couple of hours. This helps the woman to let go and the relaxed sleep is really beneficial. Don’t forget that breastfeeding hormones relax us and help us to sleep.
Finally, learn to feed lying down and acknowledge that many breastfeeding mums do have a period in the night when the baby might be in bed with them. This is safe as long as you do not drink excessively, smoke, or take drugs.
Treat this period as an extended duvet day!
Also don’t forget that a private midwife can support you on a daily basis with advice, reassurance and care tailored to your needs.