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How long can a newborn go without feeding?

(21 Posts)
suzanneme Fri 18-Feb-05 00:19:29

Realistically, how long can a newborn safely go before they have to have their first feed? I got nowhere BFing my two, and the rot set in with both when the midwives insisted that they had to be fed formula after I hadn't got either to latch on at all within the first 12 hours of life. Is that right? When did breastfeeding ladies here first have a successful feed? I'm just curious really.

Fran1 Fri 18-Feb-05 00:25:29

Not sure to be honest.

But when i had my dd i was soo exhausted i forget about my intentions to try and feed immediately (as they say the first hour you have the best collostrum). It wasn't until visitors had been and gone a few hours later, that the mw gently suggested i ought to feed my dd!!

Anyway she stood over me like a matron and after 10mins of dd not latching on, the mw panicked and said she was going to get a cup, so i could express and cup feed dd. I politely told her to sod off and leave me alone for a while, and as soon as she was gone and i could relax we had success!!

So my suggestion to you would be, don't have any visitors straight away, and ask to be left alone for a while, and see how you go on your own, cos i'm convinced the discomfort i felt in being "watched" was not helping.

Chandra Fri 18-Feb-05 00:46:17

No idea really, though... considering the milk comes some days later I won't be surprised if they are programmed for low food intake in the first days. This may sound macabre but I think it helps to illustrate the point: There was a major earthquake in Mexico city in 1986, and a huge hospital was one of the buildings that fell to the ground. After a week digging for survivors, the rescuers bumped with the room where all the newborns are kept (away from their mothers as in American movies), just to find the babies alive. Apart of being slightly dehidrated they were OK.

phatcat Fri 18-Feb-05 00:47:52

I think it depends on the baby - iirc they keep testing the baby's blood sugar level (by a small prick on the heel). I got nowhere b/f ds1 either (although I wasn't aware that he wasn't getting anything like enough) and it was day 6 when the m/w said formula or else back to hosp for rehydration.

suzywong Fri 18-Feb-05 00:50:22

very very sound advice from fran1 there

NotQuiteCockney Fri 18-Feb-05 07:30:27

If you can get them to latch asap after birth, that's best - not because they need the food, but because the earlier they start feeding well, the easier breastfeeding goes. Something to do with their hormones on being born, I think.

But I'm pretty sure they can go a few days without drinking at the start, with no ill effects. I don't think they get that much colostrum (good for them though it is), and milk doesn't come in for a few days, naturally, so they must be designed to put up with this.

You'll probably get more help in the Breast and Bottlefeeding area. Are you planning more kids, or just curious?

NotQuiteCockney Fri 18-Feb-05 07:31:10

Why on earth did I think this wasn't in the breast and bottle feeding area?

My only excuse is, I've been up for a few hours with a 5-month-old who's been vomiting copiously. All over me. Mmmm.

morningpaper Fri 18-Feb-05 08:13:27

Some cultures think that colostrum is 'evil' and don't feed the baby anything apart from a bit of water until the milk comes in. So I would have thought from that that it isn't that important. I would have thought that MOST bf mums have trouble getting any sort of action for the first 12 hours - AT LEAST.

(Although I honestly have NO idea. )

jessicasmummy Fri 18-Feb-05 08:24:07

jess fed from me about an hour after she was born - for 45 minutes! then went to sleep for the next 14 hours before i thought i better try again.... bfing didnt work out for us, i didnt get enough milk and she was sreaming constantly so i had to switch to bottle on day 4. i hate myself for not being able to provide for her the way i wanted to, but hopefully i will have more sucess with #2!

Kelly1978 Fri 18-Feb-05 08:45:42

I also agree very much with fran1. I waited until the midwife dissapeared before feeding baby, as I found it so much easier to do it in private, where I was relaxed without being watched. She was quite surprised to come back and find mother and baby happily feeding!
After that feed tho, dd didn't even want another feed until about 12 hours later. I don't know if you had pethidene, but the sleepiness made dd just want to sleep and not hungry at all. Once she had slept thru the night, she started to feed again, but not much at all at first.

starlover Fri 18-Feb-05 14:12:01

ds went for 24 hours before he would have anything. the midwives said that it was perfectly normal for a newborn not to want anything for that long.
they did a heel prick test to make sure his blood sugars were ok though.

suzanneme Fri 18-Feb-05 21:58:25

Thanks for the very interesting responses ladies. I don't really intend having any more children, but was curious to read about the experiences of others. Odd how much differing advice we all get in hospital! Midwives freaked at mine as we approached 12 hours after both babies were born, and I didn't feel I had any choice but to go for formula at that stage (then just never managed to achieve latch with either). Oh well.

beansprout Fri 18-Feb-05 22:01:55

The thing is, nature is a wonderful thing, and I really don't believe that she let us down on this one. Newborns have survived the first few days until milk comes in for thousands of years. They didn't all need formula so why do midwives insist on feeding it to babies now?

jane313 Fri 18-Feb-05 22:04:02

thats awful about the 12 hours. Milk doesn't often come in till 2/3 days. I read some research that said that this was better for the babies long term health. I breastfed mine but had to give formula for the first few days as I had gestational diabetes and he had dangerously low sugar levels.

80sMum Fri 18-Feb-05 22:25:07

I totally agree with Fran1. Keep everyone else out of the way, especially the profesionals who, though they are only trying to help, just make you nervous and more likely to fail imo. I almost gave up with my first baby. He was latching on OK but my milk hadn't come in and the midwives were badgering me to bottle-feed him. Milk came in on the morning that I was discharged (day 5; they kept you in there for that long back then!)and as soon as I got home I relaxed and the feeding was fine from then on. DS had lost 16oz mind you. But he seemed none the worse for it and soon regained all the weight. I bf for 10 months.

busyalexsmummy Sat 19-Feb-05 00:05:58

I had no help with b/feeding ds, and 24 hrs after birth they freaked out as he wasnt showing any signs of wanting to feed (he was a hefy 8lbs 13ozs and wasnt crying) and gave him a bottle, to which he took to easily, bang, my breast feeding went out the window as i couldnt get him to latch and everyone said dont put him through the stress just give him a bottle.
now better informed, i hope to have a home birth with #2 and will feed when the baby is ready wether it be 10mins after or 24 hrs after.

busyalexsmummy Sat 19-Feb-05 00:07:51

ps, my milk didnt come in till day 6 even though i was pump&hand expressing! and i didnt have any colostrum in the first few days, no matter how hard the m/w squezed at my boobs, nothing came out!

geekgrrl Sat 19-Feb-05 06:50:46

my dd2 wouldn't latch on for over 24 hours. She had a blood sugar test at 24 hours old which was ok, and then a totally incompetent locum stuck her over 20 times trying to find a vein for genetic blood testing - she had her first big feed after that to get over the stress of it all.

NotQuiteCockney Sat 19-Feb-05 08:18:22

busyalexsmummy: Babies are a lot better at getting colostrum out than we are - you probably had some, it just didn't come in response to your breasts being squeezed by a midwife. People don't seem to understand that milk/colostrum doesn't come out on demand, you need to be relaxed and calm.

I get so frustrated by how badly hospital staff are at all this - someone I was talking to on Thursday was hooked up to the big expressing machine in hospital. Nothing came out. So she believed she had no milk and gave up.

velcrobott Sat 19-Feb-05 09:05:47

Our local lactation consultant said to me that in hospitals they should ideally feed within the first 24h.... but she added a full term baby could go without a feed for up to 72 hours - though that is very unusual and of course not what should be aimed.

hercules Sat 19-Feb-05 09:19:49

at your mw, alexmummy!
I am so often shocked by health professionals lack of basic knowledge......

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