Breastfeeding Your New Baby
By Dr. Christine White
August 21, 2019
Category: Newborns

By Dr. Christine White, MD. FAAP

  • Breast feeding is one of the most difficult things about having a new baby. Don’t expect it to work easily or well for the first 7 to 10 days. EXPECT to be frustrated for a few days, but know that if you stick with it, 90 percent of mothers will be successful by 10 days. 

  • In order for your body to make milk, your brain must get the signal that it needs to get that going. In order for that to happen you have to either pump for 10 minutes every 3 hours or breastfeed for 10 minutes per side every 2 to 3 hours. THIS NEEDS TO START FROM AROUND 3 HOURS OLD. The first feeding and skin-to -skin time can be just that. Whatever happens, happens. But the next feeding needs to be a good one – or you need to pump. You cannot wait until your baby is 24 hours old, or until you get home to use your pump. You must start it in the first 5 to 6 hours of life so you can make a good amount of milk and make it more quickly. So, ask your nurse for a pump after you have completed your skin-to-skin time – and USE it. Give what you pump to the baby, using a syringe.

  • It is important that the baby be fed at least every 3 hours from the start of one feeding to the start of the next feeding. So, if you feed the baby starting at 8 a.m. the next feeding should start by 11 a.m. Even if you didn’t finish the feeding until 8:35 a.m. you must start again by 11 a.m. Feed (at least) every 3 hours from birth. 

  • Sometimes babies will feed every 1 to 2 hours. This is fine as long as it doesn’t become a habit. Don’t let them think they have a 24-hour buffet to snack on. Try to get them to eat on one side for 10 to 15 minutes. Then switch to the other breast for 10 to 15 minutes. There is no benefit to feeding for more than 20 minutes per breast. The breast is drained in that time and then they are just using you as a pacifier. 

  • USE YOUR NURSES TO HELP YOU WITH BREASTFEEDING. Every nurse on mother-baby has had at least 20 hours of breast-feeding training. You will see your nurse often. Ask her to help you get the baby latched, see if it’s a good latch, and help with positioning. The lactation consultants will help you too, but you will likely only see them once and it may not be until the day after you deliver. Use your nurses!

  • Sometimes breastfeeding isn’t going to happen – the mechanics don’t work, the mom hates it, the mom’s nipples get cracked/bleed and she must pump, or the baby will NOT stay awake. THIS IS OK. If you still want to give your baby breast milk just pump and feed with a bottle. 

  • Sometimes families choose to use formula instead of breast milk. THIS IS OK. Some of the docs at JoCo Peds never got a drop of breast milk and most people would say we turned out ok. Formula is a wonderful food for babies. I have no concerns about babies who are fed formula. They will grow up healthy and happy and strong. No mom should EVER feel bad if her baby is fed formula. All you need to do is feed your baby and help him or her to grow. 

  • Often in the first week of life a baby will need to be supplemented with formula until mom’s milk is in or the mechanics of breastfeeding are mastered. What we usually recommend is you breast feed every 2 to 3 hours first and then give 10 to 30 ml of supplement (depending on how old the baby is) by syringe or cup or upright bottle feeding. Just be sure to breast feed first so the baby practices that each time. 

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