What to Expect

What to Expect

Many new moms have questions about breastfeeding. Knowing what to expect during the first few days can help.

Here are answers to 5 common questions about breastfeeding:

Newborns need to nurse at least 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. Nursing often also helps your body make plenty of milk. As your baby grows, they will develop their own feeding pattern or schedule. Your baby will also start to show you signs when they are hungry, so you nurse when they are ready to eat.
There is no set time for feedings. They may be 15 to 20 minutes per breast. They may be shorter or longer. Your baby will let you know when they are finished feeding. They may turn their head away or fall asleep. If you are worried your baby is not getting enough milk, talk with your healthcare provider or WIC.
A newborn’s tummy is very small. In the first days and weeks, your baby can only digest a small amount of milk. By the time they are 1 to 6 months old, your baby will need between 19 to 30 ounces of human milk each day. Every baby is different. Typically, if you breastfeed your baby eight times a day, your baby will get around 3 ounces per feeding.

Breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first six months of life. Breastfeeding for 12 months or longer, or for as long as wanted by both mother and baby, will continue to provide health benefits. WIC can help you meet your breastfeeding goals.



  • Your body makes a thick, yellowish milk in small amounts.
  • This milk is called colostrum and it protects your baby from getting sick.
  • Your baby will probably be awake in the first hour after birth.
  • This is a good time to breastfeed your baby.
You (Mom)
  • You will be tired and excited.

First 12-24 Hours

  • Your baby will drink 1 to 2 teaspoons at each feeding.
  • Your milk has all your baby needs and in the right amount.
  • It’s normal for your baby to sleep heavily. Labor and delivery are hard work!
  • Some babies may be too sleepy to latch at first.
  • Within the first 24 hours after birth, babies should eat 8 or more times.
  • Some babies may need to be woken up to eat enough.
  • When your baby wakes up, look for signs they are hungry.
  • Feedings may be short and all over the place – that’s okay!
You (Mom)
  • You will be tired, too. Be sure to rest when possible.


  • Your mature (white) milk takes the place of colostrum. It’s normal for mature milk to have a yellow or golden tint at first.
  • Your baby will feed a lot, most likely 8 to 12 times or more in 24 hours.
  • Very young, breastfed babies do not eat on a schedule. It’s okay if your baby eats every 2 to 3 hours for several hours, then sleeps for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Feedings may take about 15 to 20 minutes on each breast.
  • The baby’s sucking rhythm will be slow and long, and they might make gulping sounds.
You (Mom)
  • Your breasts may feel full and leak.
  • You can use disposable or cloth pads in your bra to help with leaking.
  • If you are not noticing these changes in your breasts, contact your healthcare provider or WIC.


  • White human milk continues.
  • Your baby will be better at breastfeeding and have a larger stomach to hold more milk. Feedings may take less time and may be further apart.
You (Mom)
  • Your body gets used to breastfeeding.
  • Your breasts may become softer, and the leaking may slow down.

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:


Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: