If you plan on breastfeeding your baby, there are some simple guidelines you should follow to insure your success. These guidelines include proper planning before your baby’s birth, knowing what to expect immediately after your baby’s birth, and finding routines that work for you and your baby in the months that follow.
The following guidelines will help you on your way to becoming a breastfeeding mother.
Before the birth:
- Let your midwife know that you plan on breastfeeding
- If you plan on returning to work and pumping for the baby, you can start looking for the pump that is right for you and talking to your work about places to pump and store your milk.
Immediately after the birth:
- You should be able to breastfeed almost immediately after the birth. This helps your uterus go back to its normal size by causing it to contract and decrease your bleeding. This is the time the baby is most alert and most ready to achieve a good latch.
- The baby will get colostrum for the first few days. This milk is full of protein, healthy fats, and antibodies that coat the baby’s stomach and provides nourishment for the baby until your milk supply comes in.
- Try and spend as much time as you can “skin to skin” with the baby. This will help trigger your milk supply.
Postpartum and at home:
- Feed the baby on demand, or at least every 2-3 hours for the first few days.
- Look at the babies diapers as an indicator for how much the baby is getting from breastfeeding. By the third day of life they should have 5-6 diapers and the baby’s stool should look like.
- Take the time to make yourself comfortable. You will be spending lots of time feeding the baby. Choose positions that help you relax and enjoy the time together with your baby. “Side-lying” can be great at night, and “football hold” works well for women with larger breasts.
- Stay hydrated – Every time you sit down to nurse try and drink an 8 oz glass of water. This will help keep you milk supply up.
- Importance of a good diet – You will need to continue to eat well, and even increase your caloric intake by another 500 calories while you breastfeed. Your body is transferring vitamins and minerals into the breastmilk for your baby, so it is important to keep taking your prenatal vitamin so your calcium and iron stores are in good shape.