Although it might seem like the only thing your newborn is doing for the first few days or weeks of her life is eating and sleeping, she actually started communicating with you as soon as she was born. As a new mom, you'll need to learn to decipher her signals.
The signal for hunger is the most predominant and identifiable among babies. As a new moms, you might think crying is the biggest indicator. And while it's the unmistakable one, full-blown crying is actually considered a late hunger cue. To avoid getting to this point, the best thing you can do is to learn your baby's early feeding cues. What's the best way to do that? By limiting the separation between you and your baby. Being with her almost all the time during the first few days will help you to get to know her cues and feed her whenever she begins to show the first signs of hunger.
Of course, if for medical reasons you need to be separated from your baby for a while, don't worry because you won't lose any precious time. You'll come together as soon as you can and learn her signals then.
Here are many of the early feeding cues your baby will give you. Every baby is unique, so yours might only display one cue or several but not all of them. And you might read this list and think your baby doesn't do any of these things. If you take a few days to watch closely, you might be surprised. The important thing is to start a feeding when you see any of these signs:
One of the most common challenges you can face, particularly during the first 24 hours, is that your baby sleeps most of the time. This can make it hard to know when to feed her. You can help her along and encourage some of the above cues by making her a little less comfortable to help her gently wake up by herself. By undressing her a bit, putting her down somewhere safe so she's out of your arms or changing her diaper, you might wake her up just enough so she realizes she's hungry.
As the days pass, you'll get to know your baby's hunger cues and she'll gradually start to spend more time awake, making breastfeeding easier for both of you.
Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)