Congratulations on the birth of your baby. We support your decision to breastfeed and provide some important information to help you enjoy this experience.
Newborns will feed with increasing frequency by the 3rd to 4th day creating an increase in your milk supply. You will begin to notice your infant's own feeding cues when they arouse from sleep. Typically, as the infant's body starts to stretch and its hands move toward its mouth the infant is "rooting" in search of its mother's nipple. You should begin to nurse when you see this behavior, not waiting for the infant to cry. For many infants, crying is a late cue and latching and feeding will become difficult. Wash your hands and settle with the infant in a comfortable breastfeeding position. Use a pillow for support under your arm holding the infant. Be sure you are comfortable and your back and feet are well supported. Your infant should feed 2 1/2 to 3 hours from the beginning of the last feeding. Some infants may feed as often as every 1 1/2 hours which will also stimulate an increase in your milk supply. Keeping your infant awake and interested in breastfeeding may be difficult at times. If this should occur, undress the infant leaving only its diaper. This will increase skin-to-skin contact with the mother, who should remove her top, leaving only her bra. Skin-toskin contact will maintain the infant's body temperature while stimulating the infant to stay awake during a feeding. Position the infant in a side-lying or “cradle” position with the infants tummy turned into your breast parallel to the nipple line.
To open your infant’s mouth, gently stroke the infant’s upper lip with your nipple to promote a "rooting" response. Repeat until the mouth opens wide and the infants tongue is protruding out over the lower gum ridge. Bring the infant's head towards the nipple and insert as much of the nipple* as possible, including the areola. The lips should be flanged outward grabbing as much of the breast as possible. (see illustration below) The infant will begin to suckle then you should hear the transfer of milk and the infant swallowing. Active sucking and swallowing should last for at least 10 minutes.
*Talk to your LC about rotating the position of the infant’s mouth on your nipple to prevent nipple cracking and skin damage.
The infant should nurse at both breasts at each feeding. In the first few days, your breasts should start to feel firm. You may find the infant feeds from one breast more and you may see milk leaking from the least used breast. This indicates you are producing milk and the breasts are “letting down” milk to the nipples. You may also experience uterine contractions during these early sessions. In the first few days you may notice the infants suck pattern change from very fast sucks to slower deeper sucks indicating the milk is flowing well. Once the milk supply has been transferred to the infant, the infant begins to slow its sucking. Take the infant off the breast, burp the infant and shift to the other breast. You may need to stimulate the infant to stay awake by changing its diaper. At the end of the session both breasts should feel softer.
At the time of discharge from the hospital, your pediatrician will advise you to schedule a follow up office visit. If you experience any of the following, you should call the office: