4. Be prepared to spend a lot of time.“I hear over and over from new moms how unprepared they were for how often their babies nursed and how long each session took,” says Wendy Haldeman, a lactation consultant and co-owner of The Pump Station in Hollywood and Santa Monica, Calif. “Yes, nursing takes time, but it’s well spent, because this is when you’re building the milk supply that will carry you through for as long as you’re going to nurse your baby.
“There’s also a window of opportunity in the first seven to 10 days when your body is primed to start making milk,” Haldeman adds. “Babies know this, which is why they feed so often in the beginning.” And we do mean often: Most newborns nurse at least every two hours around the clock, with each session taking about 30 minutes.
5. Master the latch. Getting your baby to latch on to your breast correctly is perhaps the most important part of breastfeeding. “It means less nipple trauma for you and more milk for your baby,” Haldeman says. Make sure your baby takes the entire nipple and at least 1 1/2 inches of your areola (the dark area surrounding the nipple) in his mouth. (For step-by-step photos and instructions, visit www.fitpregnancy.com/yournewlife/455)
6. Line up help before you need it. Many women need hands-on help (or simple reassurance) during the first few days of breastfeeding. If your hospital doesn’t have lactation consultants on staff, line one up before you deliver so you have someone to call in a pinch. Even if they are on staff, a consultant may not be available when you need her. To find one in your area, call the International Lactation Consultant Association at 919-861-5577 or visit www.ilca.org.
The following are tips from Haldeman on when to call a lactation consultant:
- If the baby is having fewer than three loose, yellow seedy stools and six to eight wet diapers daily by five days after birth
- If you have cracked and/or bleeding nipples
- If the baby cannot latch on, or cries or sleeps all the time
7. Know what’s normal. For the first few days, your breasts produce not milk, but small amounts of colostrum, the thin, watery precursor to milk that is brimming with anti-infective properties. (All breastfed infants should still be seen by a pediatrician within two to three days of birth to ensure that they’re nursing properly.) Your milk may not fully come in for five days. After that, if you’re still worried about your milk supply, remember this: The more your baby nurses, the more milk you’ll produce.
Learn the best positions for breastfeeding success at www.fitpregnancy.com/yournewlife/288