What every new mom needs to know about baby's first feeding, latching on, and letting down.
The answer, she says, is simply a lack of exposure to
the process itself. "A generation or two ago, little girls watched their
mother's breastfeed, sisters watched each other -- and women generally had a
support system as well as role models they could emulate," says
Today, she says, many women don't have any experience
on which to draw -- so it's not uncommon for some to feel awkward or even
The good news is that with just a little bit of
knowledge and a tiny bit of patience, you can quickly and easily master the art
of breastfeeding, while increasing your comfort level at the same
Breastfeeding Right After Baby's Birth
While you may be feeling more than a bit exhausted
after labor and delivery, experts say it's best to begin breastfeeding your
baby within 30 minutes after birth, if possible. The American Academy of
Pediatrics advises placing baby in direct skin-to-skin contact with the mother
immediately after birth to encourage breastfeeding right away. Why? Here are
four key reasons:
Babies are born with very little immunity -- so they
need the antibodies present in your milk to gain key protection from disease.
And the sooner that protection can begin, says Wenk, the better off your baby
Experts at the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists, point out that the yellow, watery premilk (called
"colostrum") produced during the first few days of feeding is packed
full of protective nutrients. It can also help develop your baby's digestive
system. This helps your baby avoid gas and cramping later on.
Huotari says that feeding your baby shortly after
birth will help keep the baby's blood sugar level stable.
Babies who feed at the mother's breast soon after
birth generally have an easier time adapting to the latching-on process when
regular feedings begin.
If possible, experts say you should also try to
position your baby to your breast yourself, rather than have a nurse or midwife
do it for you. A recent survey highlighted in the British Medical Journal
revealed that 71% of new mothers who put their own baby to their breast for the
first time were still successfully nursing six weeks later, compared to just
38% of mothers who had someone else position their baby for them.
But if your baby is having problems latching on, or if
you simply don't feel physically comfortable while trying to breastfeed,
do ask a nurse or attendant for help. Professionals can help you adjust
your position or that of your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises
every new mother to make sure a trained caregiver observes her breastfeeding in
order to offer tips.