If you have a baby on the way, deciding to breastfeed may be easy for some but not as easy for others.
It can take a little more effort in the beginning to establish breastfeeding, but once you and your baby settle into a routine, life can be much easier!
Here you’ll find information on the benefits of breastfeeding, some of the basics of how to get started, and tips for success.
There are several benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies. A few of the benefits for babies include a lower risk of respiratory infections, asthma, ear infections, and lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Benefits for mom include lowering the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, as well as lowering risk of certain types of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Financially, there are benefits to breastfeeding as well. While formula feeding and supplies can cost up to $1500 a year, with breastfeeding, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize, no formula to buy, measure, or mix. You won’t have to warm bottles in the middle of the night.
Identify your baby’s hunger cues. Hunger cues include when you are seeing your baby make sucking movements with their mouth and tongue. You may also see your baby becoming restless, moving around, or putting their hand to their mouth. They may show the rooting reflex—this is when they open their mouth wide and turn head when their lips or cheek are touched. Crying is a late hunger cue. Ideally try to nurse your baby before they start to cry.
Often moms are concerned that their baby is getting enough milk. How do you know if they are?
- You should hear your baby swallowing when they nurse.
- You should see your baby swallowing.
- Notice a change in baby’s sucking pattern. Initially they start with fast shorter sucks and then move into longer, deeper sucks.
- Look for your baby’s jaw moving when they suck, and there should be pauses when they swallow.
- Having enough wet and soiled diapers in the first days of life.
- Day 1: 1 wet, 1 soiled diaper
- Day 2: 2 wet, 1 soiled diaper
- Day 3: 3 wet, 2 soiled diapers
- Day 4: 4 wet, 3 soiled diapers
- Day 5: 5 wet, 3 soiled diapers
- Day 6: 6 wet, 4 soiled diapers
- Day 7: 7 wet, 4 soiled diapers
Tips for Success
Breastfeed your baby as soon as possible after birth, ideally with in the first hour. Keep the baby in the room with you. This way you are able to notice your baby’s early hunger cues. Keep your baby skin to skin as often as possible. Nurse often, 8-10 times in 24 hours, approximately every 1 ½ to 3 hours. Be flexible and feed your baby on demand. At different times your baby may want to feed quite frequently. This is known as cluster feeding. Cluster feeding is normal and only lasts for a short time.
The first milk that your baby receives is called colostrum. In about 3 to 5 days after your baby is born, you can expect your transitional milk to come in. You may notice your breasts start to feel very full and heavy. You may experience engorgement. This feeling only lasts a couple days. It is important to feed your baby often. You may find comfort in taking a warm shower, feeding your baby, and if you are still having discomfort, you may apply a cool compress, gel pack or ice packs for about 20 minutes to your breasts after feeding.
Do not offer any pacifiers or bottles until your baby is latching well, waiting approximately 3 to 4 weeks. At this time, your baby should be latching well and your milk supply should balance out.
The early days after your baby’s birth can be quite challenging sometimes. If you are having a difficult time getting your baby to latch properly, or if you are having continued pain with nursing your baby, there are resources for lactation help.
CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson has 3 Certified Lactation Counselors on staff. We can provide assistance with your breastfeeding needs while you are here for your hospital stay. We offer outpatient lactation consultations as well. So should you go home and experience any difficulties, or have questions, you may contact or Obstetrics Unit to schedule a Lactation Consultation at 701-456-4416. We also offer breastfeeding classes, which you can take before the arrival of your baby. Again, call us at 701-456-4416 to find out more.
Additional helpful resources:
- National Breastfeeding Help line: 1-800-994-9662
- North Dakota Department of Health: ndhealth.gov/breastfeeding
- Academy of Pediatrics: healthychildren.org
- Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, & Children (WIC): ndhealth.gov/wic/
Article Resources: North Dakota Breastfeeding Coalition’s “10 Things Breastfeeding Moms Should Know Before Leaving the Hospital”; and The New Mom’s Handbook