Return to: Breastfeeding Basics
Beginning to Breastfeed
by Susie Hamilton
Breast Pumps Direct
Breastfeeding mothers should start to nurse their newborns immediately after birth. It is recommended that the first feeding should occur within an hour of the infant’s birth. When you first begin to breastfeed achieving proper latch on and finding a comfortable nursing position are the two most important skills to master. Although occasionally some women have problems in the beginning breastfeeding is a natural process and most women are successful at nursing from right from the start.
In order for your infant to be able to latch on his or her mouth needs to be wide open before taking your nipple. When the baby is properly latched on his or her lips will be slightly flared and the tongue will cup your nipple from the bottom.
Comfortable Nursing Positions
The two most common nursing positions are sitting up and lying down. Many mothers prefer to use the lying down position for night feedings since it is more comfortable and convenient for that time of the day. When positioning your baby to nurse the two of you should be chest to chest and the baby’s body and head should be aligned in a straight line.
It is important to remember that when nursing a baby you are bringing the baby to your breast not the other way around. You should sit or lie in a comfortable position before giving the baby your breast. Once the baby is properly positioned he or she should not have to stretch or twist around to latch on well.
Nursing your baby in an uncomfortable position may affect the baby from latching on properly and can result in sore nipples. As your infant grows older and successfully learns to nurse you will be able to achieve comfortable positioning and proper latching more naturally.
Feeding On Cue
Nursing on cue will ensure that you milk supply is able to meet the needs of your growing infant. Feeding your baby on cue is more important than trying to follow a specific time schedule. Your baby will eventually settle into a normal feeding routine. If the baby isn’t waking up regularly to eat you should wake him or her every two to three hours for a feeding. A healthy newborn should have approximately 8 to 12 feedings every 24 hours.
Common Hunger Cues
- Smacking lips
- Opening and closing mouth
- Sucking on fingers or fist
- Turning head to the side when mouth is touched
It is important to pay attention to your baby so that you can identify his or her early signs of hunger. Crying is a late sign of hunger. As a rule of thumb frequent short feedings are better for maintaining your milk supply for your baby than longer less frequent feedings.
As a breastfeeding mother taking time to care for yourself and to adjust to your newborn’s schedule is crucial. A well-rested and relaxed mother will produce more milk and find breastfeeding easier than a mother who is tired and stressed. Limiting the amount of visitors that you and your baby have during the first couple of weeks can help you successfully adjust to nursing your baby. Without tons of family and friends over you will be able to focus all of your attention on caring for your new baby and getting plenty of rest.
Return to: Breastfeeding Basics