Tips for Getting Started With Breastfeeding

Tips for Getting Started With Breastfeeding

To breastfeed or not to breastfeed? That’s the question plaguing brand new and seasoned mothers alike. Back in the day, a doctor may have told you to skip the hassle and go straight for the bottle. Now, we know just how beneficial breastfeeding is for both mom and baby. 

But just because breastfeeding is a natural function for a woman, that doesn’t mean it always comes naturally. In fact, 60% of moms don’t breastfeed for as long as they intend. 

Megan Dillman, MD, knows how frustrating and overwhelming breastfeeding can be. Here, she shares some practical tips that will help you get started on the rewarding journey that is breastfeeding. 

Get started now

While your baby is still inside, there’s not much you can do to boost your milk supply. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. You can prepare now by getting your breast pump, choosing a lactation counselor, and asking the right questions. 

Consider an unmedicated birth

The delivery room is one of the most unpredictable places, and no matter how you envision your birth going, you may end up needing medication or other intervention to deliver a happy, healthy baby. 

But it’s been shown that a natural, unmedicated birth gives you the best shot at breastfeeding right after delivery and beyond. That’s because both you and baby likely need time to recover from the effects of medication and surgical intervention, which can significantly impact your first few attempts at breastfeeding. 

Prioritize skin-to-skin contact

If you haven’t been told about the importance of skin-to-skin contact, we’d love to be the first. Skin-to-skin contact, especially in the first moments after birth, helps your baby regulate heart rate and breathing, maintain body temperature, and so much more — it even gives both of you a leg up in the breastfeeding game. 

As long as your baby is healthy and born full-term, we strongly encourage you to request (dare we say demand?) immediate skin-to-skin contact. This facilitates your baby’s natural instinct to find your nipple and begin breastfeeding. 

Breastfeed as soon as possible

Speaking of your baby’s natural desire to find your nipple and start feeding, we recommend that you don’t waste much time after birth and try breastfeeding within the first hour of birth. If your baby has special needs or you need to recover from a tough delivery, then put baby to your breast as soon as it’s safe.

Focus on a good latch

Latching is perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to breastfeeding. Nearly half of mothers who attempt to breastfeed report problems with latching. While it can be tricky, there are a few steps you can take to ensure success:

You know you have a good latch if:

Still having trouble? Ask to see a lactation consultant or other health care provider to give you some pointers and make sure the latch is correct. 

Stay on schedule

Brand new babies are demanding, and right now it’s best to follow orders. You can have much more success breastfeeding if you put baby to your breast every 2-3 hours. That sounds exhausting (and it is), but staying on schedule stabilizes your milk production and makes breastfeeding much easier in the long run.

Tuck the pacifier away

Pacifiers are great tools, but if you start off too early, your baby may develop nipple confusion and prefer the pacifier over your nipple. We recommend offering your breast — and only your breast — for at least the first few weeks after birth.

Avoid the temptation to supplement

Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t give your baby formula between nursing sessions. Similar to nipple confusion that can accompany the early introduction of pacifiers, babies can grow to prefer a bottle of formula over your breast. 

Breastfeeding is hard, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. If you need more support or information about breastfeeding, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at our Lakeville, Minnesota, office today. 

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