You may feel overwhelmed with all the information you need to remember about breastfeeding, but have no fear. We’ve got your covered! Here are simple 8 tips that can be implemented shorty after birth to help get you and your newborn off to a strong start.
You should have skin-to-skin contact for at least one hour immediately after birth and then as often as possible afterwards. Skin-to-skin is when you keep your baby (wearing only a diaper) against your bare chest. Skin-to-skin helps regulate the baby’s body temperature and stabilize blood sugar, while assisting you with milk production and bonding. If you have had a C-section, have your partner do skin-to-skin until you are able to hold the baby. You can practice skin-to-skin before, during, and after feedings. You and your baby can never have too much skin-to-skin!
IDEALLY, BREASTFEED WITHIN THE FIRST HOUR OF LIFE
Your baby will be alert and interested in breastfeeding during the first hour after delivery. When placed skin-to-skin after birth, most newborns are able to find the breast on their own (guided by their heightened sense of smell and a stepping reflex) and begin breastfeeding.
ROOM-IN WITH YOUR BABY IN THE HOSPITAL
Keeping your baby close is really important so you can learn to recognize and respond quickly to the baby’s feeding cues. Early signs of hunger include rooting, bringing hands to mouth, licking, and sucking on fingers. Crying means that the baby is already hungry and fussy, so don’t wait for that.
DON’T STICK TO A STRICT FEEDING SCHEDULE
Instead, feed your baby on demand at least 8-12 times per 24 hours (every 2-3 hours). If your baby is asleep at feeding time, wake him/her up by placing the baby skin-to-skin. Feeding often will help the baby gain weight and establish your milk supply early on.
UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF COLOSTRUM
The first milk your body produces is colostrum. It’s thick, yellow and a natural vaccine for your baby. Colostrum contains lots of antibodies that coat the baby’s gastrointestinal track and protects against disease and infection. You won’t produce large amounts of it and that’s completely normal! As your baby’s stomach size increases, your milk supply will mature and increase in volume.
AVOID SUPPLEMENTARY FORMULA FEEDINGS UNLESS MEDICALLY NECESSARY
Breast milk contains all the nutrition your baby needs (with the exception od Vitamin D) during the first 6 months of life. Its composition even changes according to the baby’s changing needs, especially during the first month of life.
You will need to breastfeed at least 8-12 times every 24 hours. Too many visitors can be overwhelming and interrupt feedings with your baby.
ASK FOR HELP!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from one of the lactation consultants in the hospital. Even if you think breastfeed is going well, it’s always a good idea to have a lactation consultant assess position and latch. Proper latch is key to preventing nipple soreness and ensuring effective milk removal.
Rebecca Agi is a Los Angeles based International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who provides in-home counseling and education to new and expecting families. Rebecca completed her lactation consultant training though UC San Diego’s Lactation Program, and currently is the owner of Best Milk LA. There, Rebecca provided lactation support to hundreds of new mothers and babies with breastfeeding challenges.