that time! Perhaps you have already had your baby, or maybe
you are waking up each morning wondering if your little one
is coming today. Most babies are ready to nurse within minutes
after they are born. We’ve put together
some helpful information from Motherwear's Essential
Breastfeeding Guide to get you started breastfeeding:
The First Few Days of Breastfeeding
As soon as your baby is born, most doctors and midwives will put
the baby right on your bare chest so that his first introduction
to the world is in your loving arms. Your baby will probably look
around and try to find you and the others in the room. When things
calm down a little, he may begin "rooting" around a bit,
searching for your breast. Breastfeeding your baby soon after birth
is a great start for your nursing relationship. Given enough time
(especially after an intervention-free birth), your baby can find
the breast on her own, or you can help her along a little. Use the
information provided here to get yourself and your baby in a good
position for nursing and to make sure that the baby latches on correctly.
Relax… this is just practice and your baby may not suck for
long. And some babies would just as soon wait until later.
Getting yourself and your baby in the correct positions will have
a tremendous effect on your early nursing success. Perhaps the most
important element of proper positioning is being sure your baby
takes your entire nipple and a good part of the dark area surrounding
the nipple, called the areola (ah-REE-o-la), into his mouth. Incorrect
positioning almost always leads to nipple soreness for the mother,
insufficient milk intake for the baby, and frustration for both.
Take time to read and follow these simple suggestions.
First, get comfortable, whether that means sitting up or lying down.
You can sit in bed, in a chair, on the sofa, on the floor - anywhere
your back is supported and your body is relaxed. If you are seated,
your knees should be slightly higher than your hips. A footstool
under your feet can help, and a firm pillow on your lap will lift
your baby to the height of your breasts and free your arms to help
you get started. Many women find that the easiest position in which
to begin breastfeeding is the side-lying position. When you're lying
down, you can feed from either breast and have one hand free to
hold your baby in position or stroke her as she nurses. Pillows
supporting your head and upper body will help you sustain this position
easily through a long nursing session.
Your baby's position
Once you are in a suitable position, find a comfortable one for
your baby. If she is straining to get to your breast, she cannot
latch on correctly or nurse well. Her ear, shoulder, and hip should
be in a straight line, and her chest should be touching yours.
Pillows and footstools
The right pillow takes the strain off your back, keeps your arms
free for hugging, and brings your baby to the perfect nursing height.
With the recent popularity of nursing pillows, designs have been
honed to perfection. By raising your legs slightly, a nursing footstool
helps you nurse more comfortably.
Breastfeeding is an exquisite thing and, overall, a rewarding experience
for both a mother and child. But the first weeks can be difficult.
Too many women give up because they don't realize that, like most
other things, getting it just right takes practice. Follow these
simple steps to get started.
1. When you and your baby are comfortable, place the palm of your
free hand just below your breast and your thumb on top of your breast,
then lift. Your fingers should touch the breast, not the areola.
2. Gently touch your nipple to your baby's cheek
or lower lip. When she opens her mouth, lift your breast and pull
her close so her nose and chin touch your breast. Don't put your
breast in your baby's mouth; bring her to your breast. She should
close her mouth around your areola and begin sucking. If she doesn't
latch on, repeat the process.
3. Be sure both of your baby's lips are flared outward. Nursing
will be very difficult if either lip is not. To "flange"
your baby's lips for proper latching on, use your thumb, above your
breast, to gently tease out her upper lip. Use your finger, below
your breast, to stroke her chin and roll her lower lip outward.
4. If your baby's sucking hurts your nipple, her position is not
right. Slip your finger into her mouth to break the suction. Then
take her off and try again.
5. Most of the areola should be in your baby's mouth. If it's not,
take her off and position her again.
6. If your baby has any trouble breathing through her nose, bring
her bottom closer to you, or lift your breast slightly to free her
7. Be sure your baby's chin is off her chest so she'll be able to
Ensuring nursing success
Continuing the physical contact you two have shared since conception
can only make the transition into her new world an easier one. Studies
have shown that babies who stay with their mothers in the hospital
("room in") learn to breastfeed faster, startle less,
and establish their day/night rhythms more quickly than babies who
are taken to a nursery. Rooming-in also ensures against the hazards
of early bottle-feeding that babies sometimes get in nurseries.
Insisting on keeping your baby with you will help your breastfeeding
get off to a good start.
Babies learn to nurse, just as they will later learn to crawl and
walk. A baby confronted with conflicting stimuli may become confused
and frustrated. If your baby receives a bottle or a pacifier at
the hospital or at home during the early weeks, you may experience
difficulty getting him back on the breast. Taking liquid from a
rubber nipple requires a process very different from breastfeeding,
and it takes much less work. Your baby may have trouble unlearning
one method and learning another. Remember all the advantages of
breastfeeding, and avoid the bottle whenever possible, especially
during the early weeks. If bottle-feeding becomes necessary, wait
at least six weeks, until nursing is well established.
Tell the hospital staff frequently that you do not want your newborn
to receive any formula, water, or a pacifier, and have your doctor
record this on your baby's chart. Another important way to ensure
breastfeeding success is to turn down any offers of formula samples
to take home with you.
Your milk supply: Is your baby getting enough
Nursing for proper growth
During your baby's first two weeks he should be fed at least every
three hours around the clock. Wake him, if needed, to feed at this
frequency; if you received an epidural anesthetic during the birth,
waking may be necessary for the first several days. When your baby
is back to his birth weight and is regularly wetting and soiling
diapers, waking him to feed won't be necessary.
Many lactation consultants advise against timed or scheduled nursings,
though some mothers find scheduling necessary to fit into their
lifestyles. Left to their own timetables, babies breastfeed as needed
- sometimes in short, frequent feedings, sometimes in long ones
several hours apart, often at night. Your baby knows when he needs
food and will know when he has had enough. He will also get the
right balance of foremilk and hindmilk for optimal growth. In most
situations, you can simply leave the timing to him.
Your job is simple: Feed him whenever he is hungry and let him stay
on each breast until he has had enough. Let him finish the first
breast, give him a chance to burp, and offer the second.
Is your baby getting enough milk?
Breastfeeding works by the concept of supply and demand. In general,
if your baby is nursing frequently, has six to eight wet diapers
a day, is gaining weight, appears healthy, and receives no supplementation,
she is probably getting plenty of milk.
If you suspect that your milk production is tapering off, simply
increase the number of times you put your baby to the breast each
day and night. The more your baby stimulates and empties your breasts
by nursing (or the more you express or pump your milk), the more
milk you will produce. Remember, even if your breast feels empty,
it will produce milk as your child nurses.
Easy steps to increase your milk supply
1. Feed your baby nothing but your own milk. If you have been supplementing
formula, cut back gradually.
2. Encourage your baby to nurse as often and as long as she wants.
Don't give her a pacifier, which would replace sucking at the breast.
3. Check positioning to be sure your baby is nursing efficiently.
4. Encourage your baby to drain both breasts at each feeding. It's
fine to switch back and forth a few times during feedings to keep
5. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and eat a nutritious
diet. You may want to eat smaller, more frequent meals.
6. Rest, relax, and enjoy the closeness of your nursing time.
If you are still concerned about your milk supply, contact the lactation
consultant at your hospital, your midwife, doula or a La Leche League
leader for advice. In most cases, a few simple steps will remedy
the problem. If your baby is not gaining weight by the time he is
two weeks old, keep his doctor informed.
Overcoming Common Breastfeeding Problems
Even once you and your baby have successfully mastered the fundamentals
of breastfeeding, it’s not uncommon to experience problems
a bit later on. If you are aware of the potential issues in advance,
you are better able to work through them quickly, and to know when
you may need to seek outside help. Motherwear's Essential
Breastfeeding Guide includes sections dedicated
to these challenges (including plugged ducts, mastitis, thrush and
more), most of which can be easily and quickly resolved. Refer to
our Guide to read up on these issues, and for detailed information
on how to solve them.
More Resources from Motherwear
Motherwear is committed to your breastfeeding success! Need a little
more help or encouragement? Check out these resources, all available
in the Breastfeeding
Resources section of our website:
Essential Breastfeeding Guide
Breastfeeding Guide is an indispensable
online resource for breastfeeding mothers and mothers-to-be. Thirty-three
pages of insightful information on important breastfeeding topics.
Visit the Breastfeeding Resources section and browse, download,
and print the Guide. Pass it out to all your friends! Individual
chapters are also available separately.
Parenting from the Heart
Our quarterly online magazine, Parenting
from the Heart , offers sage advice
and personal stories about breastfeeding and mothering from a community
of moms. Each issue also features MotherShare, a forum for real
nursing moms to respond to a breastfeeding question, offering
their insight and suggestions to other new moms and moms-to-be.
Your Monthly Breastfeeding Planner
You’re currently reading breastfeeding information we’ve
geared specifically to pregnant moms due any time now! Our website
offers insight and information on other stages of pregnancy and
birth, to help guide you through the details of selecting your nursing
wardrobe, planning for those first days in the hospital and home,
breastfeeding in public, returning to work, and more. Browse your
current stage, look back or ahead, and refer to this section often
as your pregnancy and nursing experiences progress:
It's Time to Shop for Maternity & Nursing Bras
(6th month of pregnancy)
Essential Information for New Nursing Moms (7th
month of pregnancy)
Pack Your Bag For Baby’s Birth! (baby due
in less than 2 months)
Building The Perfect Nursing Wardrobe (baby due
in 1 month or less)
Nursing On The Go (baby 1 month old)
Breastfeed Your Baby – Anytime, Anywhere (baby
2 months old)
Yes, You Can Breastfeed & Work (baby 3 months
10 Reasons to Keep Nursing your Baby (baby 4+ months
Our Favorite Breastfeeding Tips - A collection of
our favorite nursing tips, provided by Motherwear customers and
organized into distinct categories for easy reference. Review them
for support, help and inspiration; share with your pregnant and
nursing friends and email your own best tip to us!
Favorite Links" -
a resource in the "Breastfeeding Resources" section
that provides access to a wide range of valuable online breastfeeding
and parenting information and support.