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Health & Baby

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Breast-Feeding - Topic Overview

How do you breast-feed?

For each feeding, you go through these basic steps:

  • Get ready for the feeding. Be calm and relaxed, and try not to be distracted. Get some water or juice for yourself. And have two or three pillows to help support your baby while he or she is nursing.
  • Find a breast-feeding position that is comfortable for you and your baby, such as the cross-cradle or the football hold. Make sure the baby's head and chest are lined up straight and facing your breast. It's best to switch which breast you start with each time.
  • Get the baby latched on properly. Your baby's mouth needs to be wide open, like a yawn, so you may need to gently touch the middle of your baby's lower lip. When your baby's mouth is open wide, quickly bring the baby onto your nipple and areola (the dark circle around your nipple).
  • Provide a complete feeding. Let your baby nurse for at least 15 minutes. Be sure to burp your baby after each breast.

Talk to your doctor right away if you are having problems and aren't sure what to do. Don't be afraid to call even if you don't quite know what it is that is bothering you. Your doctor is used to parents of newborns calling. He or she can help you figure out if there is a problem, and if so, how to fix it.

How often do you need to feed your baby?

Feed your baby whenever he or she is hungry. In the first 2 weeks, your baby will breast-feed about every 1 to 3 hours. This schedule can make you very tired. But know that your baby will soon start eating more at each feeding, and you won't need to breast-feed as often.

Plan for times when you will be apart from your baby. Use a breast pump to collect breast milk ahead of time. You can store milk in the refrigerator or freezer for times when someone else will be taking care of your baby.

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