Before your baby is born, plan ahead. Learn all you can about breastfeeding. This helps make breastfeeding easier.
It's important to have support from the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff who care for you and your baby. Before it's time for you to give birth, ask about the breastfeeding policies at your hospital or birthing centre. Look for a hospital or birthing centre that has policies for:
It's best to start breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth. For each feeding, you go through these basic steps:
In the first days after birth, your breasts make a thick, yellow liquid called colostrum. This liquid gives your baby nutrients and antibodies against infection. It is all that babies need at first. Your breasts will fill with milk a few days after the birth.
Talk to your doctor, midwife, or lactation specialist right away if you are having problems and aren't sure what to do.
Plan to breastfeed your baby on demand rather than setting a strict schedule. For the first few days, be prepared to breastfeed every 1 to 3 hours. That often works out to about 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. Wake a sleeping baby to feed, if you need to. If you breastfeed more often, it will help your breasts to produce more milk.
After you're home, don't be afraid to call your doctor or nurse call line, midwife, or lactation specialist with questions. That's true even if you don't know what's bothering you. They are used to parents of newborns calling. They can help you figure out if there is a problem, and if so, how to fix it.
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. Then it's ready when someone else will be taking care of your baby.
Breastfeeding is a learned skill that gets easier over time. You are more likely to succeed if you plan ahead, learn the basic techniques, and know where to get help and support.
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Current as of: March 16, 2017
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
& Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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