By Jennifer Kelly Geddes for Love Sleep Play
You’ve weighed your options, and you’ve decided you want to
breastfeed your baby. However, many new moms have lots of questions, and
for some women, breastfeeding doesn’t come as naturally as they thought
it would. Just hang in there — it just takes a little time, practice,
The first days
Your breast milk will likely come in a few days after your baby is
born. Colostrum (a yellowish fluid full of protein and disease-fighting
antibodies) arrives first, so keep nursing even if you think nothing’s
coming out. Colostrum is meant to be your baby’s first food and is
important for newborn health.
If you need help getting started, don’t be shy about asking for
help. Most hospitals have a breastfeeding class that you can take before
you give birth; they’ll also have lactation experts on staff for
one-on-one help. Get some guidance early on to learn how to help your
baby latch onto the breast, and how to tell whether she is nursing
Establishing a good milk supply
Rest, proper nutrition, and plenty of fluids all contribute to
forming a good milk supply. Your milk changes its taste based on the
food you consume, and you may notice your baby reacting to what you’ve
eaten. Most newborns adjust well to the flavors of their mom’s milk, so
try not to worry that the spicy stir-fry you had for dinner is affecting
your child. Remember, moms all over the world eat all kinds of foods
and successfully nurse at the same time! To help build a good milk
supply, nurse regularly, or about every two to three hours for newborns.
The more you nurse, the more milk you’ll make.
Years ago, it was believed that pacifier use would interfere with how
much your baby takes from the breast, but that thinking has been
updated. Experts now say it’s fine to introduce a pacifier once you’ve
gotten into a good breastfeeding routine, usually after three to four
weeks. Pacifier use may also reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome (SIDS), which is another great reason to introduce it.
Using a bottle
If you’re considering supplementing with a bottle, it’s best not to
start this until nursing is well established, usually when your baby is 3
to 4 weeks old. Some babies will balk at the bottle if it’s given by
Mom, even if it contains beloved breast milk. Newborns are smart — in
many cases they can smell their moms and prefer to feed at the breast.
Your best bet here is let Dad, a babysitter, or other family member
offer the first few bottles until your baby learns to accept the milk
When your baby is a newborn, feed him whenever he is hungry. He won’t
eat much at any one feeding since his stomach is so small. Most
newborns nurse often, usually 8 to 12 feedings in a 24-hour period.
Watch for these hunger signs:
- The rooting reflex — he’ll open his eyes and turn his head toward the place where your breast might be
- Nuzzling at your breast
- Making sucking motions or putting his hands to his mouth
How much breast milk is enough?
You can’t see the milk going into your baby’s mouth (though it may
drip a little around his lips), but you can tell he’s getting it by the
swallowing sounds he makes. You’ll also know he’s eating enough by
counting his wet diapers. Your baby should be wetting six or more
diapers each day with pale yellow urine and about three or four with
soft yellow bowel movements. He’ll also appear satisfied after each
feeding and may doze off.
When there isn’t enough milk
It’s hard work keeping up with the feeding demands of a newborn! You
may feel as if you’re nursing around the clock but your baby is still hungry.
Keep in mind that babies go through growth spurts, nursing more on some
days than others. Your body will learn to adapt and catch up. Still,
there are a few things you can do to help. Drink plenty of fluids (keep a
glass of water where you sit to nurse to remind yourself) and try to
sleep when the baby sleeps. (This is easier said than done!) Taking a
slower pace as you go about your daily activities and errands will help
give your body the rest it needs and can help boost milk production.
Milk on the go
Breastfeeding doesn’t have to stop if you go back to work. Many
companies today understand the needs of new moms and offer spaces for
pumping breast milk. If your employer doesn’t have a private, clean, and
relaxing place for you to pump, talk with your human resources