Breastfeeding A Guide to Getting Started

By Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC

Many moms want to breastfeed, but get intimidated with learning how. Here are some tips to get you started!

Before your baby is born, he is practicing sucking and swallowing amniotic fluid. At birth, your baby is ready to put this practice into action.

Place your new baby directly on your bare chest to keep him warm and relaxed, and  near the nipple so he can latch on.

A baby’s stomach is very small at birth; it can only hold 1 – 2 teaspoons of fluid (about ¼ ounce). This small stomach usually empties in about an hour.

Babies usually don’t need any water or formula – they get everything they need by breastfeeding frequently.

Your baby also has a sleep cycle that lasts about 1 hour. It’s normal for your baby to wake up every hour to eat, have a diaper change, or need other help.

Over time, their days and nights will re-synchronize and they’ll gradually have longer times between feedings.

Even before your baby is born, your body is making colostrum: breastmilk without the cream, sugar, and water.

It is yellowish, thick, and mostly protein and antibodies, just the thing to protect the newborn’s immune system and reduce the risk for jaundice.

The amount of milk for the first few days is just right to fill your baby’s small stomach.

Around day 3 or 4, your body begins to add in the cream, sugar and water, so your breasts will feel fuller. Your baby is also becoming more alert and proficient with feeding.

Your supply will level out over the first few weeks, so you will make the right amount to meet your baby’s needs.

Keeping up your supply and keeping baby growing and content means that you and baby will be feeding together at least 8 – 12 times over 24 hours.

There will be days where you may feel that all you did was lay around with the baby and breastfeed.

This is GOOD because the more you feed and the emptier the breast, the stronger the signals to your body to keep making milk. The more your baby feeds, the faster and more efficient he will become at breastfeeding.

Bottom line – if you both don’t do the work, you won’t get the paycheck.

If the baby gets a meal from a bottle, that reduces baby’s time at the breast and can change how well he feeds there.

If you pump rather than breastfeed, you may get less milk.

Separately or together, these can decrease your milk supply. Let your priority be feeding the baby and establishing a strong milk supply.