Just like anything new, breastfeeding takes practice. But it won’t be long before it feels like second nature to you. In the meantime, here are some tips for positioning your baby and helping her to latch on and start breastfeeding.
Did you know that babies are born with feeding reflexes that can help them get to the breast and latch on their own? In fact, when mothers and babies are kept skin to skin in the first hour or two after birth, most healthy babies demonstrate these instinctive behaviors by slowly pushing their way up to the breast, opening their mouths, dropping their tongues and latching on their own or with just a little guidance.
Why then, can breastfeeding be so complicated for some moms? In many cultures, women grow up watching other women breastfeed. So, a new mom has this experience and an already built-in support system. If you haven’t had this experience, like most of us, attend a breastfeeding class and find a local breastfeeding support group in your area to help prepare yourself. Here are some additional breastfeeding tips to get you started.
Right after your baby is born, let her lie skin to skin on your chest until she breastfeeds for the first time. Learn to identify your baby’s early hunger cues as it is best to start breastfeeding with a calm, quiet and alert baby. Some early hunger cues include: rooting (moving her head side to side with an open mouth when her cheek is touched); sticking her tongue out; sucking on her hands. If your baby is crying, don’t force her to breastfeed. First, soothe your baby by holding, swaying, walking or rocking her.
Here are some things you can do to help your breasts make milk:
Breastfeed or pump within one hour of baby’s birth.
Breastfeed or pump 8-10 times every 24 hours, about every 3 hours.
Massage and gently squeeze your breasts before and during breastfeeding or pumping.
If pumping, hand express afterwards for a few minutes to help drain your breasts of milk.
This is general information and does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you have a problem you cannot solve quickly, seek help right away. Every baby is different. If in doubt, contact your physician or healthcare provider.