6 Must-Do’s to Get Breastfeeding Off to a Good Start
1. Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally!
Somewhere along the way moms have gotten the notion that just because breastfeeding is very natural (it’s the way a baby is supposed to be fed), it will be easy from the beginning. I often tell moms, “Breastfeeding will probably be one of the most frustrating and worrisome things you will ever learn how to do, but soon it will be the EASIEST.” Both you and your baby will learn to breastfeed … together.
2. Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.
Babies who are placed skin-to-skin with their moms immediately after birth (dried well, laid on mother’s bare chest within 5 minutes of birth and then covered with a warm, dry blanket), and allowed to stay there until the first feeding, are more likely to latch well and to continue to exclusively breastfeed longer.
3. Ask for help!
Remember that the first few days are a time of learning for both you and your baby. Even if you feel that the latch is good and all is well, it certainly won’t hurt to have a lactation consultant take a look. Also, I sometimes find that moms who have successfully breastfed other children (the “pros”) may need help, but are embarrassed to ask. Remember, all babies are different and even though you may be a pro, your baby isn’t … yet. Make sure you have contact information for a LC, or someone else who can help, and don’t hesitate to reach out to them.
4. Watch the baby, not the clock.
Your baby will let you know when she is hungry. You and your baby will have been through a lot with labor and birth and both of you will need to rest and recover. I find that many moms expect their babies to breastfeed every 2-3 hours, which just doesn’t happen at first. There’s no rhyme or reason as to when your baby will want to breastfeed those first couple of days. (Might be a few hours, might be 30 minutes.) Keep your baby with you at all times, preferably skin-to-skin as much as possible, and offer the breast whenever she shows early signs of hunger.
5. Keep your baby with you.
Your baby belongs with you, not with strangers down the hall. Research has proven many times that babies cry more and become stressed when separated from their mothers. It’s also a fact that breastfeeding is more successful when babies stay with their moms. Furthermore, despite what well-meaning grandmothers recommend, mothers get more sleep when their babies room-in.
6. Your baby doesn’t need formula.
A normal, healthy newborn DOES NOT need to be supplemented. You may be worried during the first few days because your baby might not breastfeed as expected (refer to Tip #4 above), but by following Tips #2, 3 & 5 and remembering Tip #1, she will get just the right amount of milk from you and breastfeeding will go smoothly. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges mothers to exclusively breastfeed (that means no other drink or food) for about 6 months and to continue breastfeeding after introducing solids. Mothers should breastfeed their babies for as long as it’s beneficial for mother and baby.
Keep Calm and Breastfeed On
The Breastfeeding Guru