Before the birth
- Decide you want to breastfeed. Talk with the hospital’s breastfeeding specialist or your physician about your intent to breastfeed your baby and discuss any concerns or questions you may have.
- Get prenatal breast care. If you’re concerned about flat or inverted nipples, a breastfeeding specialist may suggest special prenatal breast care. After delivery, the consultant can show you how to help your baby latch on to your breast.
When you’re admitted to the hospital
- Tell staff you plan to breastfeed. Ask the labor and delivery nurse to notify the nursery that you will be breastfeeding.
- Note breastfeeding on chart. Request that your baby room with you continuously or that a note be made on the chart that your baby should not receive any bottle-feedings and should be brought to you when she’s hungry.
- Request breast-only feedings. Request supplements not be given to your baby unless medically necessary.
After your baby is born
- Breastfeed as soon as possible.You should breastfeed as soon as possible after birth, preferably within the first hour. Your baby benefits right away from the easy-to-digest proteins, vitamins and minerals, as well as from the protective antibodies in colostrums - the thick yellowish translucent fluid your breasts secrete for the first two to three days.
- Feed when hungry. Breastfeed your baby whenever she is hungry. That could be from 8 to 12 feedings in a 24-hour period (demand feeding).
- Use both breasts. Breastfeed from both breasts to equalize the breastmilk production in your breasts.
- Don’t worry about time limits. Although 15 minutes nursing at each breast is pretty typical, it’s best not to set a specific time limit. Some babies eat quickly; others take their time.
- Look for hunger signs. The AAP suggests not waiting to breastfeed until your baby begins to cry. Instead look for signs of hunger such as increased alertness, the rooting reflex or the sucking reflex.
- Nursing benefits you. In addition to helping both you and your baby adjust to breastfeeding, frequent and early nursing also helps you. Your little one’s sucking stimulates the hormone oxytocin, which causes your uterus to contract, decreasing vaginal bleeding. It also helps your uterus shrink to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly.
- After a C-section. If you’ve had a cesarean section, it’s still important to breastfeed as soon after birth as possible. You may feel more comfortable if you have some pain medication before you breastfeed and you may find the “football hold” will be the best way because it puts less pressure on your incision. (Imagine the way a football player carries a ball and you’ll get the idea.)
Before you leave the hospital
- Ask a pro. Ask to have the breastfeeding specialist observe you feeding your baby and make suggestions.
Get names and numbers. Get the names and phone numbers of the hospital’s breastfeeding consultant so you can call for advice or answers once you and your baby are home.