Even before labor and delivery, you may be wondering about the feeding options to comfort and nourish your baby once he or she arrives. Breastfeeding is a natural, healthy way to comfort and nourish your baby.
It may take some time for you and your baby to get used to it. It may take some practice, too. While it is the most natural and healthy way to feed and nurture your baby, it may not be easy at first. We are committed to supporting your decision to breastfeed and offer assistance from certified lactation consultants at the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health. Learn more about our lactation support services.
Breastfeeding in the Beginning
The best time to begin breastfeeding is within the first hour of birth with your newborn placed on your chest. This position of skin-to-skin contact within that first hour is important for bonding and warmth. It will also help the baby use reflexes like the sucking reflex that assist with breastfeeding. Establishing good breastfeeding habits as soon as possible will help you and your baby learn quickly and maintain routines.
During pregnancy, hormones cause mammary glands (glands in the breast) to get ready to lactate (produce milk). In those first few days after baby is born, your body will produce colostrum which is the ideal food for your newborn. It is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold” because it is loaded with nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby from illness. It is easily digestible and helps your baby get used to breastmilk.
When your baby begins to suck on the breast nipple, the colostrum will flow through tiny openings to feed the baby. You will want to breastfeed your baby every one to three hours in the beginning. When your baby is hungry, you may notice the signs such as licking or lip smacking, opening and closing the mouth, sucking on hands, tongue or lips and rooting, which is another reflex when a baby turns his or her head toward source of touch to the cheek.
Good Positioning and Latch
It may feel a bit awkward at first but with time and practice you and your baby can master the positioning and an effective latch. These are important factors that contribute to effective and painless breastfeeding.
When you hold the baby skin-to-skin and position him or her properly, there will be a better latch. The latch is the attachment between your baby’s mouth and your breast. Once latched, your nipple will be deep in the baby’s mouth and the baby’s lip will be close to the base of the nipple.
Taking Care of Yourself When Home
You may have mild breast tenderness in the beginning or even engorgement as your body adjusts to milk production. You may experience discomfort or there may be other issues if you use a breast pump. Contact one of our lactation consultants to discuss how you’re doing and to address any breastfeeding concerns.
Diet and Other Important Considerations
Enjoy a healthy, well-balanced diet while breastfeeding. Eating well is important for you and your baby. You may lose weight without even dieting because you are burning calories in the breastfeeding process. It is recommended that you take in approximately 400-500 extra calories each day when breastfeeding.
In addition to a balanced diet with extra calories, increasing the amount of fluids you drink every day is important. A good way to remember this is to drink something every time you nurse the baby. And don’t forget to continue with prenatal vitamins after your baby is born.
Almost everything you eat or drink goes through your milk to your baby, including medicines, caffeine and drugs and alcohol. Please be sure to check with your healthcare provider about any medicines you may consider taking. Take care of yourself and:
- Use caffeine in moderation (2 or 3 cups of coffee or other caffeinated drinks a day)
- Avoid alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs
- Avoid second-hand smoke around your baby-it puts baby at risk for more ear or lung infections, asthma and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
For information on the effects of marijuana in breast milk, learn more about our study.
Call Us for an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant, please call (720) 848-1060.
For more resources, check out our breastfeeding resource list.