Let it Flow
Follow our expert advice and nursing your baby will become second nature.
If you find yourself buckling under the pressure to put your baby in the nursery so you can get some rest, take the advice of a doctor who’s been there and call in an advocate. “Even though I knew what was best for my baby, it was still intimidating,” Valentine says. “So a lactation consultant can be a very important support.” Keeping your baby in your room also will prevent the hospital staff from giving him formula—a strict no-no, as doing so will interfere with your milk production.
3. Get near naked
For the first several days, keep your baby in as much skin-to-skin contact with you as possible. “Like any other mammal, a baby uses his mother’s scent to identify his food source,” Tiller says. “If you wrap a baby up in lots of blankets and keep him away from his mother, he’s going to sleep a lot more and miss opportunities to nurse.” Skin-to-skin contact also increases milk volume, Valentine says.
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.