Skip to main content

Warning notification:Warning

Unfortunately, you are using an outdated browser. Please, upgrade your browser to improve your experience with HSE. The list of supported browsers:

  1. Chrome
  2. Edge
  3. FireFox
  4. Opera
  5. Safari

Your baby's first feed

Skin-to-skin contact with your baby in the first hour after birth helps get the first feed off to a good start. Your midwife will help you position your baby safely.

Most babies are alert and keen to breastfeed soon after birth. But every baby is different. Check for signs that your baby is hungry. Your midwife or nurse is there to help and support you.

Breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact

Watch a video explaining the benefits of skin-to-skin contact with your baby in the first hour after birth.

Breastfeeding and Skin to Skin Contact

Starting your baby's first feed

You and your baby may start the first feed by yourselves. But if you need some guidance, your midwife is there to help and support you.

  1. Hold your baby close to your breast.
  2. Stroke your baby’s hands and feet.
  3. Wait for signs your baby is ready to feed.
  4. Let your baby attach to your breast - make adjustments if you need to so that it's easy for your baby to latch.

Signs your baby is ready to feed

Your baby could be ready to feed if they:

  • flutter their eyes
  • moving their hands to their mouth
  • move their mouth
  • move towards your breast
  • turn their head when you touch their cheek

Crying is a late sign of hunger.

Try to feed your baby when you notice them giving you early signs that they are ready to feed. It is usually easier as you'll both be calmer and more relaxed.

First days of breastfeeding

Your milk can be yellow, white or clear in the first few days. This is called colostrum.

Your body makes colostrum in small amounts. It is full of antibodies that help your baby fight off infection.

In the first 1 or 2 weeks:

  • feed your baby as often as they want, this will help you stay comfortable
  • change your breast pads regularly or at every feed - breast milk may leak from your nipples

Feeding your baby: the first few days

Breastfeeding your newborn

Breast milk meets all your baby's food and drink needs for the first 6 months.

A newborn can feed 10 to 12 times in 24 hours, during the day and night.

Your breast milk supply may increase around days 3 to 5. This causes your breasts to be fuller and firmer. This is sometimes known as 'your milk coming in'.

In the early days, breastfeeding a lot helps you build up a good milk supply.

Every time your baby feeds, they are letting your body know how much breast milk you need to produce. The more you breastfeed, the more milk your body produces.

In the next few weeks, your baby may have a more regular feeding pattern. This will help your body adjust to producing the right amount of milk.

But there may be days when your baby wants to feed a lot.

Newborn breastfeeding routine

How to tell if your newborn is getting enough breast milk

Midwife Brenda Piper Callan talks about the early stages of breastfeeding (video)

Support if you are breastfeeding

Breastfeeding takes patience and practice.

Page last reviewed: 15 November 2023
Next review due: 15 November 2026