Breastfeeding Tips

Breastfeeding your child is one of the best things you can do for your newborn. It offers a variety of healthful benefits. Here are some tips on how to make it easier for you to do.

  • Try to place baby at the breast as soon as possible after birth. Ideally, this will happen right in the delivery room. Ensure that your practitioner will allow you to nurse in the birthing or delivery room if all goes normal.

  • Babies only minutes old will often crawl up to the breast from the mother's abdomen, and start breastfeeding all by themselves. This process may take up to an hour or longer, but the mother and baby should be given this time together to start learning about each other. Babies who "self-attach" run into far fewer breastfeeding problems. This skin-to-skin contact will also help keep the child warm.

  • Try to get some professional help, such as a lactation specialist. In the hospital, you can ask if a lactation consultant or a nurse who is knowledgeable about breastfeeding can observe your technique. If you leave the hospital before receiving any guidance, make sure that someone with breastfeeding expertise evaluates your technique.

  • If possible, try to stay in the same room with your baby.

  • Limit visitors to allow more nursing opportunities. This may mean limiting visiting privileges at first to just your spouse. This is probably better anyway, since it allows the three of you to bond right away.

  • Mothers and babies learn how to sleep in the same rhythm. Thus, when the baby starts waking for a feed, the mother will also start to wake up naturally. The baby shows long before he starts crying that he is ready to feed. His breathing may change, for example. Or he may start to stretch. The mother, being in light sleep, will awaken, her milk will start to flow and the calm baby will be content to nurse.

  • A baby who has been crying for some time before being tried on the breast may refuse to take the breast even if he is ravenous. Mothers and babies should be encouraged to sleep side by side in hospital. This is a great way for mothers to rest while the baby nurses. Breastfeeding can be relaxing, not tiring.

  • If possible, try not to use artificial nipples.

  • Babies will take whatever method gives them a rapid flow of fluid and may refuse others that do not. Thus, in the first few days, when the mother is producing only a little milk and the baby gets a bottle from which he gets rapid flow, he will tend to prefer the rapid flow method. Just because a baby will "take both" does not mean that the natural method is not more beneficial.

  • Nurse on demand, up to twelve feedings a day. This will keep your baby happy and will increase your milk supply to meet the demand as it grows. Also, don't let your baby sleep through a feeding. If it's been three hours since your newborn last fed, then it's time to wake him or her up.

  • Nurse for as long as the baby wants. Most newborns require ten to forty-five minutes to complete a feeding.

  • Try not to impose too many restrictions on the length or frequency of breastfeeding.

  • A baby who drinks well will not be on the breast for hours at a time. Thus, if he is, it is usually because he is not latching on well and not getting the milk that is available. Get help to fix the baby's latch, and use compression to get the baby more milk.

  • Don't try and feed your baby if she is screaming. If crying has begun, do some rocking and soothing before you start nursing. You can also try offering your finger to suck on until the baby calms down.

  • The key to successful breastfeeding is a proper latch. Before you leave the hospital you should be shown how to get your baby latched on properly. You should also know that he is actually getting milk from the breast.

  • Position yourself comfortably with back support, pillows supporting your arms and in your lap, and your feet supported by a footrest or a telephone book.

  • Position baby close to you, with his hips flexed, so that he does not have to turn his head to reach your breast. His mouth and nose should be facing your nipple. If possible, ask your helper to hand you the baby once you are comfortable.

  • Support your breast so it is not pressing on your baby's chin. Your baby's chin should drive into your breast.

  • Attach or latch baby onto your breast. Encourage him to open his mouth wide and pull him close by supporting his back (rather than the back of his head) so that his chin drives into your breast. His nose will be touching your breast. Your hand forms a "second neck" for your baby.

  • If you are feeling pain, detach baby gently and try again.

  • As long as you are comfortable and baby is nursing successfully, use whatever works for you. There are a variety of breastfeeding positions to try.

  • It is very important to bring the baby to your nipple height. Leaning over your baby can cause backaches, neck and shoulder strain, or sore nipples.

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    i had a breastfeeding specialist come to my house after i got back from the hospital with my son to help with the breastfeeding. she visited everyday during one of the feeding times to give me tips and support and encouragement. it was really helpful. i was having trouble finding a comfortable position for feeding and she really helped me find the right way to sit and feed. i recommend getting one for all new moms.
    13 years ago