1. Take a breastfeeding class before delivery: Breastfeeding is a natural, healthy choice for mom and baby. Learning how to breastfeed can help you in your journey. Regardless if you’re a first-time mom, have had a negative experience, or you’ve never nursed before, a prenatal breastfeeding class will prepare you.
2. Breastfeed in the delivery room: Place your baby skin to skin after delivery. This will help regulate his body temperature, respirations, and glucose levels. Many babies will be interested in feeding shortly after birth and often find their way to the breast and latch! Early breast stimulation and skin to skin with your baby has a positive impact on your milk production. Remember your baby has a very small stomach capacity (about 1 teaspoon) so he does not require a large feeding. Your colostrum is all he needs at this point.
3. Learn to hand express: Learning this useful skill can help benefit both mom and baby. Studies have shown that early hand expression can also have a positive impact on milk production. See one of our previous blogs for details on this.
4. Latch is key: The position of your nipple and areola in baby’s mouth is very important for comfortable breastfeeding and removal of milk from the breast. If you are in pain get help asap!
5. Watch for hunger cues: rooting, hands to the mouth, tongue thrusting to name a few. Crying is a late sign of hunger. Offer the breast early and often. It is important to offer both breasts in the early weeks.
6. Feed your baby throughout the night at first: This helps bring about a good milk supply and assures that your baby gains weight appropriately.
7. Avoid skipping feedings especially in the early weeks: Frequent breast stimulation and removal of milk is key to establishing your milk supply. If milk is not removed this will signal your body to decrease production.
8. You don’t need a breast pump right away: Your baby is most efficient at emptying the breast. It is recommended your baby exclusively be at the breast for the first 3-4 weeks. As mentioned above frequent feedings help get breastfeeding off to a good start. You can focus on establishing a freezer stash of milk later. If you do require the use of a breast pump for a medical reason it is important to seek assistance of a lactation consultant to get you off to a good start.
9. Practice several nursing positions: these can include football, cross cradle, cradle, and side lying. Side lying can be a great position for mom to get a little rest while feeding baby. You will find what works best for you and adapt as baby becomes older.
10. Nutrition: Moms can often forget to care for themselves as they are busy caring for their baby. Try to keep a few snacks and bottle of water handy in areas where you nurse your baby or in a diaper bag.
11. Know your resources and have a support system: It is important to choose a pediatric provider for your baby that is supportive of breastfeeding. When choosing a provider for your baby research if they have a lactation consultant on staff. There are many support groups geared toward breastfeeding mothers including La Leche League, WIC, Baby Cafes, and Moms Morning Out at The Care Connection. Know who to direct your questions to before you have them. This can include a hospital lactation consultant, a pediatrician, or an outpatient lactation consultant. Do not hesitate to ask questions. Most of these professionals chose their careers to help moms just like you!
12. Don’t wait too long to offer a bottle: As mentioned above it is recommended to exclusively have your baby at the breast for at least the first 3-4 weeks. If you will be going back to work or will need to be away from home from time to time start offering a bottle weekly around 3-4 weeks. If you have questions and concerns about returning to work, offering a bottle, or pumping consider taking our Return to Work Pump for Success class here at The Care Connection.
13. Each mom is unique, and each mom has a different experience with breastfeeding: Do not get discouraged if your breastfeeding journey does not look like another mom’s. If you have questions or concerns reach out and speak with a board-certified lactation consultant.