4 Tips for Breastfeeding Success
by Sherry Maloney, ARNP, IBCLC
Breastfeeding is what nature intended, but learning to breastfeed is a process for both you and your baby. The first hours and days after birth are the best time to learn. Newborns have neurological reflexes to help them communicate that they are hungry and begin breastfeeding. Understanding your baby’s reflexes will make it easier for you to respond in a way that will encourage success. Keeping in mind the following tips will help provide the opportunity for both you and your baby to learn together from day one. In some cases, medical needs of the baby or the mother may delay putting these strategies into action. If you and baby are separated after birth, initiating these strategies as soon as possible will be important.
1. Skin to skin contact immediately after birth
Have your newborn placed on your chest as soon as possible after delivery and try to have baby nurse within the first hour. Newborns who are skin to skin adjust physiologically to life outside the womb more easily which allows them to use their natural instincts to latch on to the breast.
2. Keep baby close to you in the early days
Sleep close to your baby and do skin to skin often. This allows you to respond to your baby’s needs quickly and nurse whenever baby is willing. More nursing means more milk made, especially in the first few days.
3. Watch for early feeding cues
Grimacing, eye movements, tongue movements and sucking sounds are early cues that a baby is hungry. When showing these, they are in the best state to latch on and nurse effectively. Waiting until baby is crying and agitated will be more stressful for both of you and may make it more difficult to get baby nursing.
4. Nurse 8-12 times every 24 hours
A typical pattern for newborns is to feed every 2-3 hours but most will have periods of the day when they want to nurse more often (called cluster feeding) usually followed by a longer stretch of sleep. Some parents interpret this behavior as baby is not getting enough and want to supplement. Try to avoid supplementing unless baby is losing too much weight. All newborns lose weight in the first few days. Your health care providers will track this closely.
Despite educating yourself and preparing for success, challenges arise for many new mothers and babies. Asking questions and getting support early on will allow you to work out some of these challenges on your own. However, every mother and baby are unique and sometimes problems develop that do not resolve with the usual advice. Seeking the help of a certified lactation consultant can give you the individual help you need.
I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with a masters degree in maternal child health nursing. I have been helping mothers and babies breastfeed for over 20 years. I provide compassionate, non-judgmental breastfeeding consults in your home, helping to solve your nursing problems and supporting you in meeting your own goals. In addition to postpartum visits to address your breastfeeding concerns, I offer prenatal consults to answer your questions, identify any health issues that could lead to problems, and support you in getting the best start. Please visit my website https://www.sherrymaloneyibclc.com for more information or call with questions (781) 910-1925.