- It’s best to breastfeed as soon as possible after birth, preferably within the first hour.
- Do watch for hunger cues.
- Try not to watch the clock for feeding time limits on each breast.
- Take care of yourself, so you can take care of your baby.
There are lots of techniques out there to make nursing easier. But what works for one mom may not work for another. Experiment with these different techniques and see if they work for you.
First things first: breastfeed as soon as possible.
It’s best to breastfeed as soon as possible after birth, preferably within the first hour. Holding your baby skin-to-skin right after birth will naturally help your baby calm then begin to root for your breast within this first golden hour. The first milk, also known as colostrum, will provide your baby a higher concentration of proteins, vitamins, minerals, antibodies plus many other easily digested properties for your baby’s nutrition and developing immune system the first few days of life.
This is the practice of laying your baby on your chest between your breasts so that you are bare-chest-to-bare-chest with no clothing on your baby other than a diaper. This practice has been shown to have many benefits such as: optimizing your baby’s body temperature, increasing the antibody response from the contact with your baby’s skin flora at birth through providing the colostrum feedings, increasing milk production by your senses being hyper-stimulated with your baby’s touch, smell and sounds while on your chest, and increasing your baby’s readiness to feed once awake.
Feed during her early signs of hunger
Feeding during early hunger cues will result with a calmer and more relaxed feeding experience. Early hunger cues to notice will be an awake and alert baby followed by some lip smacking. If you don't notice these subtle cues, she may alert you by crying, which means she's been hungry for a while. A newborn baby should breastfeed at least 8 to 12 times during a 24-hour period. The time between these feedings may vary greatly. Keeping your baby in your room near you will help you see and recognize the hunger cues.
Don’t watch the clock
The left and right sides of our bodies are not identical to the other. This is also true of the left and right breast. The tissue formation and milk capacity is different for each breast. There is no way of knowing a woman’s milk capacity. Just remember that each breast is independent of the other. Each breast will need to be nursed for optimal production. Establishing a good milk supply is most important during the first 4 to 6 weeks post-partum. Make sure that during these crucial weeks that your breasts feel a relief from fullness after each breastfeeding session.
Offer the first breast until your baby seems satisfied and comes off your breast.
Burp your baby once she comes off of the first breast and more often if she seems uncomfortable during a feeding.
Switch to the other breast after she comes off of the first and begins to show hunger cues again. This supports equal stimulation.
It’s best to not offer any bottles of formula if possible. Any feedings with anything other than your breastmilk will tell your body that your baby did not need to be fed. Your milk supply will be established based on how much and how often your baby receives full breastfeedings. Bottles and pacifiers should be held off for at least the first 3 to 4 weeks.
How to maintain your milk supply
Here are some tips to help you maintain your breastmilk supply for a hungry baby:
A baby who nurses all the time or who never seems satisfied may be going through a growth spurt. If she’s asking for more frequent feedings, meet her needs until the growth spurt passes. These growth spurts occur throughout your baby’s first year of life typically between 10 to 14 days old, 4 to 6 weeks old, three months, four months, six months and nine months.
Full feedings on each breast
Massaging your breast during feedings has been shown to stimulate increased milk flow and increased hindmilk—or the fattier milk intakes—to ensure full feedings with each feeding session.
Watch your baby, not the clock
Let her comfortably feed from the first side and come off on her own before offering the second breast. Don’t be concerned if your baby is satisfied from one side and not interested in the other until the next feeding.
Use a breast pump between feedings
Use a breast pump or hand-express after each feeding if your breasts do not feel softened after each feeding. Pumping for 10 to 20 minutes will help to “empty” your breasts more thoroughly and increase your supply. This pumping will stimulate your breasts to produce more so she’ll always have enough. If there’s extra milk, you can freeze it for later.
Get enough rest. Producing breastmilk takes energy, so get as much rest as you can during the day. When she takes her afternoon nap, take a quick catnap—even if it’s for only 15 minutes.
Drink plenty of water, 100% juice, or low-fat or fat-free milk. This will help keep your body hydrated so you can produce more milk. Plus, it’s important for maintaining your general health, so drink up!
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