Upon admission to your hospital or birth center speak to your labor nurse to assure that they know your wishes to breastfeed. If you do not have this included in a birth plan ask that your baby be placed on your abdomen immediately after delivery. Try to keep your baby skin to skin until he has fed for the first time. Many babies will crawl towards the breast and latch within 10-40 minutes of birth. You can request that eye ointment, weight, injections, and other common procedures be delayed. If you give birth by cesarean section ask if your baby can be skin to skin with you in the operating room or recovery. If this is not an option have your partner hold your baby skin to skin.
Secondly, request that your baby room in. Many hospitals are eliminating newborn nurseries as a breastfeeding friendly practice. Having your baby with you allows you to respond easily and quickly to hunger cues. Most assessments and minor procedures can be done with baby in your room.
Feeding your baby as often as 8-12 times in a day will help bring in a good milk supply. Frequent feedings also allow you and your baby plenty of opportunities to learn how to breastfeed. Look for feeding cues such as rooting, licking, smacking lips, and sucking on fingers or fists. Offer your breast on demand. Feeding your baby in his diaper only close to your skin will help keep him alert, hungry, and warm.
Remember you will have breast milk present called Colostrum when your baby is born. This is nutrient packed and baby only needs about 1 teaspoon per feeding to meet his or her nutritional needs. On day 1 of life a newborn’s stomach capacity is only the size of a small marble. No wonder why baby needs short, frequent feedings!
Avoid any unnecessary supplementation with formula, sterile water, or glucose water. Many hospitals have a policy in place regarding this. Discuss with your baby’s physician prior to giving any supplementation.
Try to limit the amount and frequency of your visitors. For many moms this may be difficult, especially if this is your first baby. Keep visits brief. This will allow you to be relaxed and not feeling rushed when baby needs to breastfeed. Inform people that they can come visit you and baby at home when you feel more settled and rested.
You will also want to avoid use of any artificial nipples or pacifiers until breastfeeding is well established. If you are unsure that breastfeeding is going well request help. Many nurses have breastfeeding knowledge and can put you in contact with a lactation consultant for additional help. Most hospitals have a lactation consultant on staff. Request that they meet with you prior to discharge. If you have complications such as a pre term delivery or if your baby is in the NICU it is crucial that you work with a lactation consultant to get breastfeeding established. Finally, be sure that you have a follow up appointment scheduled with your baby’s pediatrician within 2-3 days of discharge.
Written By: Shawna Radder, RN, IBCLC