How to begin breastfeeding

Getting Ready:

  • If possible, begin your preparation during pregnancy. Though breastfeeding is natural, it is not instinctive. You may find it very helpful to attend breastfeeding classes taught by a certified lactation consultant.
  • Get help. Find out if a board certified lactation consultant is on staff at the birth center or hospital where you will give birth.
  • Room in. Keeping your baby with you in the hospital allows you to squeeze in a lot of practice breastfeeding in a short amount of time.
  • Breast only. Remind the nursing staff that you want your baby to be given no supplementary feeds (formula or water) and offered no pacifiers.
  • Nurse early and often. Initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible following your baby's birth and feed your baby on cue -- at least every two to three hours or at least eight to twelve times a day.

Get Started:

  • Get comfortable. Find a comfortable, supportive chair and have some pillows handy.
  • Lean back slightly and have feet resting on a low footstool, knees slightly raised.
  • Unwrap your baby and place her against your bare skin. If the room is cool, cover up with a light blanket.

Positioning Pointers:

  • If using the cradle hold you and your baby should be tummy to tummy. Your baby should be on her side, with her body in a straight line from ear to hip. Your baby should be at breast level, supported by pillows if needed.
  • With thumb above breast and rest of hand cupped below, tickle your baby's lips with your nipple and allow her to open her mouth widely, as in a yawn. Bring her quickly to your breast.
  • If your baby isn't able to get a good mouthful of breast, with close to one inch of the areola/breast tissue, or if you are uncomfortable, gently break the suction by inserting your finger into her mouth. If necessary, calm your baby, and try again.
  • When properly positioned her nose should be resting against your breast. You do not need to press your finger down on your breast to create an airway. If you tuck your baby's body in more closely to yours, it will widen the gap a little between your breast and her nose.
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