Although breastfeeding is a natural process, it may take some practice and patience to master. Mother’s and babies have to learn together.
Babies are born with all the instincts they need to breastfeed. A healthy newborn is usually capable of breastfeeding without any specific help within the first hour of birth. Those who do so may have an easier time breastfeeding than babies who are not breastfed immediately after birth. To help give you a good start, tell your healthcare provider during pregnancy that you want to breastfeed. When you are admitted to the hospital in labor, remind your health care team that you plan to breastfeed. Immediately after the birth, your baby should be placed in direct skin-to-skin contact with you, if possible.
Get Your Baby “Latched On”
To begin breastfeeding, the baby needs to attach or to “latch on” to your breast. A nurse or lactation consultant (a health care provider with special training in breastfeeding) can help you find a good position. Cup your breast in your hand and stroke your baby’s lower lip with your nipple. This stimulates the baby’s rooting reflex. The rooting reflex is a baby’s natural instinct to turn toward the nipple, open his or her mouth wide (like a yawn). Pull the baby close to you, aiming the nipple toward the roof of the baby’s mouth. Remember to bring your baby to your breast – not your breast to your baby.
Check the Baby’s Latch
The baby should have all of your nipple and a good deal of the areola in his or her mouth. The baby’s nose will be touching your breast. The baby’s lips also will be curled out on your breast. The baby’s sucking should be smooth and even. You should hear the baby swallow. You may feel slight discomfort for the first few days. You should not feel severe pain. If you do, talk to your nurse. IF the baby is not latched on well, start over. To break the suction, insert a clean finger between your breast and the baby’s gums. When you hear or feel a soft pop, pull your nipple out from the baby’s mouth.
Do Not Watch the Clock
Let your baby set his or her own schedule. Many newborns breastfeed for 10-15 minutes on each breast, but some feed for longer periods. A baby who wants to breastfeed for a long time – such as 30 minutes on each breast – may be having trouble getting enough milk or may just be taking his or her time to feed.
Breastfeeding on Demand
When babies are hungry, they will nuzzle against your breast, make sucking motions or put their hands to their mouth. Crying usually is a late sign of hunger. It is recommended that you breastfeed at least 8-12 times in 24 hours, or about every 2-3 hours, in the baby’s first weeks of life. When full, the baby will fall asleep or unlatch from your breasts.
Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby. Keep in mind that many new mothers have problems breastfeeding at first. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.