Women have been breastfeeding their babies since the beginning of time. However, that doesn’t mean it’s something that just happens on its own. Nursing may be tough in the beginning, but with patience, effort, and lots of support, both of you will get the hang of it. And the best part, your baby will thrive on your milk and the closeness that breastfeeding offers.

Human milk and infant formula are different. Not only does human milk provide all the protein, sugar, fat and vitamins your baby needs to be healthy, but it has special benefits that formulas cannot match. It helps protect your baby against certain diseases and infections. Breastfeeding also provides physical contact, warmth and closeness, which help to create a special bond between a mother and her baby.

It’s a good idea to try breastfeeding in the hospital as soon as you can, preferably with a nurse or lactation consultant on hand. Babies are very alert after they are born, and they are usually hungry, too! Though a newborn knows instinctively how to suck, getting his lips and your nipple in the right position (called “the latch”) may take some trial and error. This early taste of your milk also stimulates the baby to nurse better later, however, the nipple may slip out of baby’s mouth, he may not know what to do with this big thing in his face and cry, or he may just be too sleepy from the birth process.

If you had a vaginal delivery, you can nurse in bed or in a chair by lying on your side with your baby facing you. Hold your baby in the cradle position, with the head in the crook of your arm. Firmly support the baby’s back and buttocks. When feeding this way, make sure your baby’s entire body is facing your body, not the ceiling.

If you had a Cesarean-section delivery you can nurse your baby by sitting up using one or two extra pillows to support your baby and protect your incision. Lie down on your side with your baby facing you. Use a side-sitting or “football” hold. Always make sure that whatever position you nurse in; your arms, shoulders, and back are supported with pillows etc so that you are comfortable and exerting very little effort beyond the nursing itself.

To prevent sore nipples, the baby must be latched on properly. Some discomfort initially is expected; if it is painful, break the seal by inserting your finger into his mouth and try again. Alternate which side you start on. When finished, allow your nipple to air dry with some colostrum or milk on them.

It is important not to impose a feeding schedule; feed whenever the baby is hungry. Your baby should nurse 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period. Some of these feedings may be clustered very close together. You will know when your baby is getting enough by his wet and soiled diapers. By the end of the first week he/she should have approx. 6 to 8 wet diapers and 2 to 8 bowel movements each day.

When storing breast milk for later use, be sure all equipment is sterile. Fresh breast milk can be stored 72 hours in the refrigerator or 6 months in the back of your freezer (not on the door) or 12 months in deep freeze. Previously frozen breast milk can be thawed and stored for 24 hours.

Continue your prenatal vitamins and iron and get as much rest as possible. Eat a well balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids. If solely breastfeeding: at two weeks of age, begin one dropper of Trivisol (ADC vitamins), which you can get over the counter. We will ask you to come into the office 2-3 days after discharge and again in 1 more week for weight checks.

Always take time to make yourself comfortable. Do not be shy about asking for help during the first few feedings. Our staff is available for help. Just as with learning anything new, it may take several weeks before you and your baby become a skilled nursing team.