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The First Time You Breastfeed
- Wash your hands.
- With your free hand, put your thumb on top of the breast you will feed with first. Place your fingers below the breast. Do not touch the areola or nipple; your baby’s mouth will cover this area.
- Lightly tickle your baby’s mouth with your breast, which will cause your baby’s mouth to open wide.
- Gently place your nipple all the way in your baby’s mouth and pull your baby’s body close to you.
- If your baby is latched on properly, both lips should pout out and take in nearly all of the areola. Your baby should make low-pitched swallowing noises.
- Your baby's nose may touch your breast. This is okay, since your baby will still be able to breathe. If you are concerned, you can press down gently on your breast near the nose to allow air flow.
- If you feel pain while nursing, your baby may not be latched on correctly. Gently slide your finger into the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the seal. Reposition your baby and try again. It may take several tries. If you continue to feel pain while breastfeeding, talk with your doctor or lactation consultant.
Important Tips for Breastfeeding
- Have direct skin-to-skin contact with your infant immediately after birth. This has been shown to increase the rate and duration of breast-feeding.
- Start nursing as early as possible. In most cases, nursing can begin 30 minutes to an hour after delivery. For the first few days, your body produces colostrum—a thick, creamy substance that provides your baby with antibodies and essential nutrients. Usually, your milk will begin to flow between the second and fourth day.
- Use both breasts at each feeding. It is important to feed from both breasts because the composition of the milk differs from the beginning of the feeding session to the end. Also, alternate the breast with which you start the feeding. Some women put a safety pin or ribbon on their bra strap to help them remember which breast to start with.
- Let your nipples air dry. This will help prevent them from getting dry and cracking. If the nipples do get dry and cracked, you can coat them with breast milk or other natural moisturizers, like vitamin E or lanolin, to help them heal. Make sure to clean these substances off before feeding. In addition, avoid bra pads lined with plastic. Do not use soap or lotions with alcohol on your nipples.
- Expect some soreness. For the first week or two, while your nipples are getting used to feeding, you can expect a little soreness.
- Expect engorgement. A new mother usually produces a lot of milk, which can cause engorgement. Frequent feedings will help relieve this engorgement. Your body will adjust to the amount of milk your baby needs. Warm compresses and warm baths may help relieve the discomfort.
- Watch for signs of infection. Symptoms of infection include fever, painful lumps, and redness in the breasts. These require immediate medical attention.
- Talk to your doctor before taking prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as herbs and supplements. Some medications can pass through the breast milk to your baby and may not be safe. Drugs can also interfere with how much milk you produce.
Learning When to Breastfeed Your Baby
Signs That Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
- Your baby acts satisfied after each feeding.
- Your baby gains weight constantly after the first 3-7 days after birth. There may be some weight loss the first week after being born.
- Your baby has 6-8 wet diapers a day.
- Your baby has 2-5 or more stools a day at first and then may have 2 or less a day. At first, stools will be runny.
Eating for Two
- Age 19-50: 1,000 mg of calcium per day
- Age 14-18: 1,300 mg of calcium per day
And Last, But Not Least...
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2016
- Update Date: 11/25/2014