Perfecting the Breast-feeding Technique
While breast-feeding is nature's way of providing ideal nutrition for infants, the "art" of breast-feeding might not come as naturally. Like learning any new skill, the keys to success are knowledge, practice and the support of family, friends, and perhaps coworkers and employers. Discuss your decision to breast-feed with your doctor before delivery and remind hospital staff when you arrive at the hospital.
- To build confidence and to help ensure an adequate milk supply, start nursing as soon after delivery as possible. The best time to start is within 20 to 30 minutes after your baby is born, perhaps right in the delivery room. The first feeding will be short, about 10 minutes. "Rooming in" at the hospital may make your first days with nursing more successful.
- Relax and make yourself comfortable. Find a comfortable chair with good arm and back support. Or lie down with pillows strategically positioned to help you support your baby. If you are comfortable and well supported, it's easy to hold your baby and you won't feel much tension in your neck, back and shoulders.
- Plan to nurse on demand — that is, whenever your baby says it's time to eat. Increased alertness or activity, rooting toward your breast or mouthing are all signs that your baby is hungry. Typically, crying is a late signal of hunger. Trying to establish a schedule early on may frustrate you both. As reassurance, you can't "spoil" your baby by feeding on demand. Most babies fall into a schedule with time.
- Be prepared to nurse very frequently during the first month — about eight to 12 times every 24 hours. That's because a newborn's stomach is small and because nutrient needs are exceptional now during rapid growth and development. Frequent nursing helps establish your milk supply and keeps your breasts from becoming hard and swollen. Full and heavy breasts signal that it's time to nurse. As milk "lets down," or moves from the inner breast to the nipple, you may feel a tingling feeling.