Congratulations on your decision to breastfeed! Breastfeeding helps
keep you and your newborn healthy and offers a unique opportunity for
the two of you to bond. We hope this overview on the basics of
breastfeeding provides the foundation you need for a great start.
Getting Started: The First Month
Your child will receive some health benefits no matter how long you
decide to breastfeed. Successful breastfeeding begins right after birth.
Snuggle your newborn against your skin as soon as you are both able.
This skin-to-skin contact is shown to help the two of you bond, and also
helps your body begin milk production.
Attempt breastfeeding during these first moments after birth. At
first, you'll produce colostrum: a thick, yellowish milk full of
nutrients essential to your newborn. A few days later, your breast milk
will come in.
Our nurses and breastfeeding educators can help you find the
breastfeeding positions that are most comfortable for you and your
newborn. The most common positions are:
- Cradle Hold – Cradle
your baby's head in your right arm. Allow your baby to nurse your right
breast, with your baby's belly facing yours and feet resting on your
left side. Repeat on opposite side.
- Cross-Cradle Hold –
Using your right hand to hold your baby's head, allow your baby's back
to rest on your right inner forearm, with the feet running along your
right side. Guide your baby's head to nurse your left breast. Repeat on
- Football Hold –
Using your right hand to hold your baby's head, rest your baby's back
along your inner forearm, with the feet running along your right side.
Using your hand to guide, allow your baby to nurse your right breast.
Repeat on opposite side.
- Side-Lying Hold –
While lying on your right side, cradle your baby in your right arm. With
your baby resting alongside you, guide your baby's head to nurse your
right breast. Repeat on opposite side.
You and your newborn have the opportunity to share a room during
your stay at UMC. Rooming in helps you recognize your baby's hunger
cues, allows you to nurse as soon as your baby is hungry, and helps your
body begin producing breast milk. Infants and moms both tend to sleep
more restfully when rooming in.
During these first days and weeks, exclusive breastfeeding is
important for helping you and your baby get the hang of nursing. Unless
medically necessary, avoid using bottles, formula and pacifiers so your
newborn can become used to breastfeeding and avoid nipple confusion.
Your baby will also experience the most health benefits and protection
from illness when exclusively breastfed.
It is especially important to allow your baby
to determine the feeding schedule during this time, as well. A newborn may nurse eight to ten
times a day, or every two to four hours. You might even need to wake
your baby to breastfeed. Over time, your baby will develop a predictable
When you breastfeed, allow your baby to nurse each breast,
completely emptying one before beginning the other. During each session,
nurse for as long as your baby is hungry to avoid breast engorgement
and plugged ducts -- both of which can be quite uncomfortable.
Finally, remember to take care of yourself. Your body requires more
calories and water to help you produce enough milk for your baby.
Staying relaxed and rested also helps, so consider accepting offers of
assistance from friends and family.
The First Six Months
Soon, you may start to think about returning to work or leaving your
baby with a babysitter. If you plan to use bottles to feed your baby
breast milk, wait until your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old and latching on
has been firmly established. About three weeks before your baby enters
childcare, purchase a high-quality electric breast pump and begin
storing your milk. Contact your insurance provider to see whether you
may be fully or partially reimbursed for your purchase. Women who
qualify for WIC or Medicaid may also receive assistance for this
Many infants begin eating solid foods between four and six months of age.
Be sure to speak with your pediatrician about when and how to introduce
solid foods. Even after your baby begins eating solid food, you can and
should continue breastfeeding through the first year. Try mixing new
foods with breast milk so your baby can experience a familiar flavor
when trying new foods.
As you reduce the frequency of nursing, you'll find your body will
produce less milk than before to adapt to your baby's new schedule.