When desribing breastfeeding many people believe “It’s natural”. Though true, that doesn’t make breastfeeding easy for you or your newborn to accomplish. Your baby needs to learn to “work for food” and your breasts need to learn how to “make food”. For breastfeeding to begin you will need to have the following occur: delivery, regular nipple suckling/tugging from your newborn or a breast pump, good hydration and adequate protein intake. The urban myth is you have a baby and your milk will start flowing. The truth is that breast milk can be best produced if your brain is told it is needed by a complex hormonal milieu that is activated by suckling your newborn.

How To Breast Feed

Once you have delivered, your nurses in labor and delivery and on the postpartum floors will help you latch for the first, and subsequent times, to best have your baby begin breast feeding. Your health care team, including your obstetrician, bedside nurses,  lactation consultants, and pediatricians, will all help you and your newborn optimize your breastfeeding experience.

There is no real schedule.
The pediatricians advise that your newborn not rest from feeding for more than 4 hours (sometimes less in special circumstances). Cluster feeding, when your newborn tries to feed every hour, occurs during growth spurts and shouldn’t be happening daily. Most newborns demand to be fed every 2-3 hours.

How do you know if enough breast milk is being made.
A contented and well fed newborn is the proud producer of wet and dirty diapers, (often more of them than you could have ever imagined). The other measure will be how your newborn gains weight. If your child doesn’t settle down after feeds, or seems to be produce less wet and dirty diapers than you were led to expect, you may have low breast milk production.

Do not be discouraged if your newborn looses weight after birth.
Some weight loss after delivery is anticipated as your newborn was used to 24 hour womb service and now is fed 8-10 times a day. Your pediatrician would like your newborn not to loose more than 10% of their intial birth weight.

Breast feeding takes practice for you and your newborn. Do not be discouraged. It takes most new mothers 10-14 days to make breast feeding look natural and feel ease with the process.

If you are not Breast Feeding:

There are many women who decide to bottle feed their infants whether from poor prior breast feeding experience, medication needs that are not baby-friendly or prior breast surgery or simply a desire not to. Whatever the reason you should do the following to make this transition easier:

  1. Wear a tight bra regularly for the first 5-7 days after delivery (a sports bra works best)
  2. Consider a wide ace bandage wrapped around your breasts to decrease stimulation under a tight bra. (Not too tight, one must breathe easily)
  3. Consider ice and cool compresses to the breasts
  4. Avoid breast stimulation
  5. Take regular ibuprofen, motrin, or advil to aid in reducing inflammation of the breasts.