Getting Breastfeeding Off to a Great Start

Here are some tips for gaining the advantage in successful breastfeeding:

  • Get baby to breast immediately! – The time right after your baby is born is precious.  Babies are often alert right after birth (especially if the birth was unmedicated) and will usually latch on.  However after an hour or so baby falls into a deep sleep (being born is hard work!) and may not wake to breastfeed again for a while.  Also it’s important that baby recognize and bond with mom as well as imprint on the breast at the start.
  • Room in with Baby – Keeping the baby with you (rooming in) and not in the nursery allows you to feed entirely on demand and helps you and your baby get to know each other.  Babies who room in lose much less birth weight than babies in the nursery.
  • Only Mama – Make sure your baby gets nothing but you to eat!  Supplementing with formula can lead to a decrease in milk supply.  If a baby gets a pacifier or bottle this can lead to nipple confusion.  A baby actually has to work to get milk out of a breast by actively sucking.  With a bottle, all baby has to do is stop the flow with his/her tongue.  This can spoil and confuse babies and they might refuse the breast.
  • Natural Childbirth – Studies have shown that some babies who received drugs during labor (via IV, mouth, or epidural) can be sleepy or have trouble latching on.  This can be because the drugs make their lips numb and they have more difficulty with their rooting reflex.  If you can, try and get the hands-on support you need during labor so you don’t have to take medication unless it’s necessary.
  • Get Support – Attend a La Leche League Series Meeting for mother-to-mother support, join a breastfeeding moms group, or consult a lactation expert.  I even recommend that women planning to breastfeed attend a La Leche League Series (4 meetings in a row) while they are pregnant.  Each meeting has a different topic and you can get a great base of knowledge before the baby is even born!  Visit this site to find a meeting near you.
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