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The first week with your new baby

Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

Alongside getting to know each other, feeding is one of the first things you and your baby will learn together. Just like learning to walk, feeding is a skill that takes time to learn. We can support you if you need help along your journey.


The following information is relevant whether you're breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or mixed feeding your baby and can help you understand if feeding is going well in the first week after birth.

We'll cover:


Further information about breastfeeding and bottle feeding can be found in our antenatal videos

Newborn Baby

Is your baby getting enough milk?

Whether you are breast or bottle feeding, here are five things you can observe to ensure your baby is getting enough milk in the first week and onwards. At the end are useful sources of support if you're worried.

1: Frequent feeds

Offer feeds to newborns at least 8-12 times per 24 hours in response to their cues (at least every 2-3 hours, with 4-5 hours being a long stretch). Feeds will have no pattern in the early days, with some feeds clustered together and others spread further apart. If your baby is too sleepy to feed regularly enough, you might need to wake them up. 

Encourage your baby to feed from both breasts at each feed. This helps stimulate your milk supply and ensures your baby has had enough at each feed. The milk flow will vary throughout each feed and offering the second side can often be a helpful way to encourage more feeding or rouse a sleepier baby

2: Swallowing milk

If you are breastfeeding, your breastmilk will increase in quantity during approximately days 3-5 (this is where the nappy colour will start to change to green - see below). Watch carefully for your baby swallowing at the breast: swallowing video showing the baby's chin dropping and pausing whilst the baby's mouth fills with milk.

If you are giving any bottles or syringes of milk, remember babies’ tummies are tiny at the start so feeding your baby small amounts more frequently will be easier for them to digest.

  • Babies naturally need small breaks (pauses) throughout a feed. If you are bottle feeding, the milk flow is harder for your baby to control and you might need to help them to slow down with Paced Bottlefeeding techniques. See our Antenatal Education Video for more info.

  • Make sure you are using boiled water that has been cooled for no more than 30 minutes (at least 70 degrees) to make up powdered formula as powdered formula is not sterile. Follow NHS safe formula preparation guidelines 

  • It can be difficult to know how much to feed your baby and different sources will recommend different volumes. These average feeding volumes (based on 8 feeds per 24 hours) are taken from a number of sources as a guide to use alongside all the other signs your baby is getting enough milk.

    • Day 1: approx 2-10ml per feed

    • Days 2-3: approx 5-30ml per feed

    • 1 week: approx 45-60ml per feed

    • 1 month to 6 months: approx 80-150ml per feed

3: Frequent nappies

Checking your baby's nappies is one of the most useful ways to see how they are feeding - what goes in must come out! Wet nappies are particularly important to monitor your baby's hydration. Babies have varying nappy patterns and the following can be used as guide alongside the other signs your baby is getting enough milk.

  • Days 1-2:

    • Most babies will do at least 2 wees and 1 poo every 24 hours

    • Poo is dark brown/ black and very sticky. This first poo is called 'meconium' and is everything your body has swallowed in the womb.

  • Days 3-4

    • ​Most babies will do at least 3 wees and 2 poos every 24 hours

    • Wee is increasing in volume. Poo is changing colour, going greenish as baby takes in more milk.

  • Days 5-6 onwards

    • Most babies will do at least 5-6 wees and 2 poos every 24 hours

    • ​Wet nappies are getting heavier as more wee is produced. Poo is liquid, yellow and greater volume; at least 2x 50p coins size each day. 

  • Babies under 6 weeks usually poo at least twice a day, poos remain yellow and liquid

  • Babies vary but producing wet and dirty nappies each day and the colour of poo changing throughout this first week is a key sign that they are taking in milk.

  • A baby receiving formula may have less soft and less frequent poos

  • More info on newborn poo

4: Baby behaviour

Is your baby sleeping, waking to feed, and having periods of being awake and content? Sleeping for periods (but waking enough to ask to feed at least 8-12 times in 24 hours) and having wakeful periods are important signs of a healthy newborn baby.

All babies cry at times to communicate (e.g. too hot or cold, hungry, need to poo, wet or dirty nappy, or just adjusting to being outside of the womb). Sometimes the solution is simple (e.g. offer a feed!), but sometimes the answer isn't obvious and comfort is all we can offer. Babies are not born able to regulate their own systems and rely on our support physically and emotionally. Holding your baby when they are upset or unsettled supports your baby's development and ability to regulate stress.


If your baby is unhappy a lot of the time it can be very difficult to cope with. Our bodies naturally react to our babies' cries and this can feel very overwhelming and stressful for both parents. If you have someone to support you, you can take turns holding a crying baby, sometimes babies will settle in a sling or with a change of scene like going outside. Any breathing or relaxation techniques you have learned antenatally can be useful too. If you need a moment, put your baby down somewhere safe, take a breath and return. You can also book in to see us to explore why your baby is crying, and how to cope with a very unsettled baby. 


For some babies, there is an underlying reason for persistent crying. If you are at all worried about your baby, speak to your midwife or GP.


If your baby is hard to wake, sleeping for extended periods or not feeding well when they do, they may not be getting enough milk. To rouse your baby to feed, you can try undressing them, changing their nappy, laying them down on a flat surface on their back, or stimulating them (talking to them, tickling them etc.). More info on sleepy babies.


If you're struggling to wake your baby or you suspect your baby may be unwell - seek medical advice.


Check the other signs in this article and get in contact for support if you need.

5: Appropriate weight gain

Your baby will be weighed at birth, at 5 days, and between days 10-14.

  • Up to 7% weight loss by day 5 is expected (sometimes more if you had fluids by drip during labour)

  • Most babies will be back at birth weight by 2-3 weeks, and gaining around 20-35g per day.

  • Growth charts are an important indication of whether babies are getting enough milk, but need to be considered alongside all the other signs of a healthy baby mentioned above. More info on Growth Charts.

  • More info on Weight Gain

If you are worried...

​Book 1-1 Specialist Support at Baby Umbrella 


Other sources of support

  • For urgent medical support, visit A&E or call Maternity Triage

    • Tunbridge Wells Maternity Triage: 01892 633500 

    • Maidstone Birth Centre: 01622 220161 

    • Crowborough Birth Centre: 01892 654080

  • Beside You has details of local Health Visitor and Midwifery led support

  • You can call any of the UK breastfeeding or perinatal support helplines for urgent support

Is feeding comfortable for you and your baby?

Positioning your baby at the breast

There are many ways a baby can be positioned but how they attach to the breast is key to reducing any pain or soreness, creating efficient transfer of milk from breast to baby and building an effective milk supply.

  • Before you attempt to position your baby, make sure you are comfortable where you are seated and relax into the space. You can use e.g. cushions or rolled up blankets to support your body.

  • Check out our Positioning Tips for images of various ways to hold your baby and tips to help your baby latch deeper and reduce pain.​​​

  • Our Antenatal Education Video (Breastfeeding section) has more tips on positioning.

  • Global Health Media Videos on good attachment at the breast.

  • Book in for support from either our specialists or our peer supporters for more help with positioning.

Taking care of your breasts

Sometimes fluid and milk can collect in your breasts starting around days 2-4 (when the milk volume increases) and they can become hard and uncomfortable - this is called engorgement. Babies often find it difficult to latch on if your breasts are very full and firm, and this can lead to nipple pain and damage due to a shallow latch. Frequent feeding, cool compresses, gentle stroking towards the armpit, and 'reverse pressure softening' before feeding can help - more info here on engorgement.

Sometimes if your breasts are very full, the breast may feel lumpy (from blocked ducts). This can create inflammation within the breast - this is called mastitis. This often presents as a tender or hot area of your breast and you may also feel ill, with fever or flu-like symptoms (these symptoms can appear quite quickly). It's important to continue to remove milk from the breast regularly (ideally by breastfeeding or otherwise expressing) to avoid breast fullness becoming worse. Treat your swollen breasts very gently. Cool compresses, gentle stroking towards the armpit, and lots of rest can help. Book to see us for support and visit your GP if symptoms are not resolving or getting worse. More info here on mastitis (mastitis guidance changed in 2022 so check the information you are given is up to date) .

If you have any cracks or scabs on your nipples from breastfeeding, the most effective solution is to improve baby's attachment at the breast - see our tips on positioning and book to see us for support. Some mothers find lanolin cream or hydrogel pads useful for healing, but studies do not consistently find that they are beneficial.   

How are you feeling?

The arrival of a baby is a huge emotional and physical transformation for both parents and feelings can start to emerge after you get home. Birth experiences can take time to process. It is common to feel overwhelmed and tearful at times but help is available if you need it. Our Protecting your Mental Health in Early Parenthood video has more information and ideas to help. Our listening service is available if you or your partner want to talk to someone about your experience.

It is normal for babies to need almost constant contact in the early weeks as they are transitioning to life outside the womb. A sling or baby carrier can help support this. Our partners at the Kent Sling Library can support you with slings and baby carriers.


Prioritise rest, relaxation and connection. This builds oxytocin which is the hormone of love, which promotes bonding and encourages milk supply. If you have visitors, ask them for practical help to take care of you in the early weeks - delivering meals, doing a load of washing, making you a cup of tea - so you and your partner can concentrate on building connection with your new baby.

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