Breastfeeding in the First Weeks
Getting breastfeeding started
Although breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby, it is a skill that both you and your baby may need time to learn. Here are some tips to help you and your baby get breastfeeding started
- Hold baby skin-to-skin and breastfeed as soon as possible after birth. In the first days after birth, your body makes colostrum. Your baby drinks approximately 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon each feeding. Between 30 to 72 hours following birth more milk is made and your milk production increases as your baby breastfeeds more frequently.
- Breastfeed often (8 or more times in 24 hours) to help you make a lot of milk for your baby.
- Give your baby only breast milk and vitamin D supplement unless a breast milk substitute (formula) is medically necessary.
- Follow your baby’s hunger cues. It is normal for babies to feed every 1 ½ to 3 hours during the first month.
- Feed your baby whenever she is showing signs of hunger. These may include:
- moving her head as if searching for your breast
- turning her face and opening her mouth wide when her cheek or lip is touched (called the “Rooting Reflex”)
- sucking and licking movements of her mouth
- sucking on her hands
- beginning to wake from sleep and having fast eye movements under her eyelids
- beginning to stretch and increase body movements
- making small sounds
- Feed your baby before she is too upset and crying loudly.
- Get help to breastfeed, if needed. In the hospital, ask your nurse or lactation consultant to help you to breastfeed. Once you are home, see Breastfeeding Services for additional help.
- Don’t give your baby bottles or pacifiers. If you decide to use these, it's best to wait until four to six weeks when your baby has had lots of practice with breastfeeding.
- Giving your baby a bottle or pacifier too early might:
- make her feed less often, which will decrease your milk supply
- change your baby’s latch as she will suck differently on a bottle or pacifier
- cause your baby to have problems latching onto your breast, which will make breastfeeding painful for you