Whether or not to breastfeed is an important decision for new moms. Hamilton has listed a variety of information to help you make that decision and give you support should you decide to breastfeed.
Babies should be placed skin-to-skin with mom immediately after birth. Ask for your naked baby to be placed tummy-to-chest on the mom’s bare chest right after birth. Baby and mom can then be dried and covered with warm blankets. Hold off routine procedures such as weighing, measuring, and administering vitamin K and eye prophylaxis for up to an hour. This will give you and your baby a chance to get to know each other and bond. As soon as possible (before the baby is an hour old), breastfeed your baby. Keep your baby skin-to-skin until after the first feeding is done. Keep visitors down to a minimum and let them look at baby in mom’s arms until after baby has breastfed. If you need assistance with visitor control, just ask your nurse. She will be happy to help.
Breastfeeding after a cesarean. Ask to see and hold your baby as soon as possible after birth. With help from nurses and your partner, you can also enjoy skin-to-skin contact. Plan to breastfeed your baby in the recovery room. With help from nurses, or your partner, place your baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible and encourage your baby to breastfeed.
Encourage your baby to breastfeed frequently. Keep your baby with you day and night. Studies show that mothers who breastfeed 5 times in the first 10 hours of life will produce almost twice the amount of breastmilk on day three compared to those who breastfeed less often. The amount of colostrum taken during these early feedings is small (only teaspoons), so your baby may seem hungry after feeding and my demand or want to breastfeed every hour. Frequent breastfeedings give you and your baby a chance to practice this important skill while there is help available. Breastfeed at least 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. Expect to breastfeed every 1 to 3 hours during the day and every 2 to 3 hours at night, but remember that every baby is different. Some babies will breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours, day and night, while others will cluster-feed, breastfeeding every hour for 3 to 5 feedings then sleeping 2 to 3 hours between clusters.
Watch for early signs of hunger or light sleep: When you see early feeding cues your baby is telling you he/she is ready to breastfeed.
- Smacking or licking lips
- Smacking or licking lips
- Opening and closing mouth
- Sucking on lips, tongue, hands, fingers, toes, or clothing
- Rooting around on the chest of whoever is carrying him/her
- Trying to position for nursing, either by lying back or pulling on clothes
- Fidgeting or squirming around a lot
- Hitting on the arm or chest repeatedly
- Fussing or breathing fast
- Moving head frantically from side to side
Keep a daily feeding diary. During the first 2 weeks, while you and your baby are learning to breastfeed, keep a daily log of breastfeedings, wet diapers, and bowel movements (poops). There is a feeding diary included in your baby’s Admission Folder.
Wake a sleepy baby. Sometimes a sleepy baby will not demand or want to eat often enough. One of the best ways to stimulate the baby to feed is by holding the baby skin-to-skin. Undress the baby down to their diaper and place them on mom’s bare chest between her breasts and cover with a lightweight blanket. Holding the baby this way allows mom’s body to resume the care she was providing while she was pregnant. Mom’s body will adjust its temperature to keep the baby at a perfect temp. Mom’s breathing and heartbeat help baby regulate his/her heartbeat. Baby will cry less and gain weight faster. This closeness also triggers the mothering and milk-producing hormones which will stimulate your milk production. Often babies held skin-to-skin for 30 minutes or so will be ready to breastfeed. Watch for early signs of hunger or light sleep such as described above. Additional suggestions for waking a sleepy baby include: dimming the lights, changing the baby’s diaper, removing blankets or covers, washing their bottom or face with a cool washcloth, massaging their feet and hands and placing baby on your lap in a sitting position while supporting their chin in one hand then massaging their back with the other hand.
Most sleepy babies will need to be stimulated during the feeding and between breast so they will stay awake and actually nurse. Gently rub the baby’s back, feet and hands while breastfeeding if your baby is trying to return to sleep after just a few sucks. Repeat the wake-up activities in between breast as needed.
Position your baby correctly on the breast. When you are latching your baby on, think about how you take a bite of a sandwich. You compress the sandwich and make it narrow so you can take a bite. This is the same thing you want to do for your baby. You should compress your breast in the direction the baby will be taking a “mouthful.” Hold the baby with their mouth close to your nipple. The baby should not have to turn their head or strain upward to reach the nipple. The baby’s head should be tilted back slightly; it should look like he is sniffing the air. Squeeze out a few drops of colostrum or milk to moisten the nipple. Tickle the baby’s lips with the nipple and wait for their mouth to open wide, like a yawn. Bring your baby quickly toward the breast. The baby’s bottom lip and chin should touch the breast first. Their nose will touch the beast lightly. Don’t relax your hand until after the baby has taken several sucks and has latched-on well.
Know the signs of poor latch-on. To transfer milk, your baby must latch on the breast correctly. When positioned correctly, the nipple and the surrounding breast tissue should fill the baby’s mouth. The nipple should be at the back of the baby’s mouth, with little or no pressure on the nipple itself. The nipple should look the same (smooth and round), before and after you breastfeed. Signs of poor latch-on include: nipples that are flattened or creased after breastfeeding, clicking sounds by the baby while breastfeeding, pain while breastfeeding or dimpling of the baby’s cheeks while breastfeeding.
Try not to give bottles for the first 3 to 4 weeks. Giving bottles too early can lead to what some call “bottle preference” and other call “nipple confusion.” No matter what you call it; studies show that giving bottles in the first few weeks of life may lead to difficulty in latching, unresolved nipple soreness, difficulty staying at the breast, reduced milk supply, a shortened duration of breastfeeding, and even total breast refusal. Once breastfeeding is well established, babies will be able to take a bottle and still be able to breastfeed. Remember, it is hard to learn to do two things at once! Let your baby learn how to breastfeed first.
Watch a breastfeeding video. Ask your nurse to bring you the TV/DVD so you and your family can watch Breastfeeding: A Guide for Success. This informative, encouraging video shows beautiful breastfeeding babies and moms. It will provide new mothers with the information they need to successfully establish and maintain the breastfeeding relationship while answering many of the most common concerns of new mothers and their families.