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Breastfeeding is a learned skill that becomes easier over time. You are more likely to succeed with long-term breastfeeding if you plan ahead, learn the basic techniques, and know where to get help and support.
Plan ahead for breastfeeding while you are pregnant. Doing so before you deliver allows you time to think about how to manage the daily logistics of breastfeeding before you become too busy with caring for your newborn.
Take a breastfeeding class while you are pregnant. These classes usually are offered through your local hospital or birthing center.
Be ready to start breastfeeding soon after you deliver. A baby is typically very alert during the first couple of hours after birth. This is the best time to start breastfeeding. A nurse or other doctor will help you with proper latching and getting started.
After this alert wakeful time, your baby will become sleepy and less likely to eat regularly for the next several hours. Be sure to try breastfeeding your baby every 1 to 3 hours (even if you have to wake your baby). Usually, a hospital staff person checks in with you routinely. If available, a lactation consultant may help you learn other breastfeeding tips and positions.
You'll want to plan to breastfeed your baby on demand rather than setting a strict schedule. Learn how to recognize your baby's hunger signs. For the first few days, be prepared to breastfeed every 1 to 3 hours, or about 8 to 12 times in a 24-hour period. Wake a sleepy baby to feed, if necessary. More frequent breastfeeding stimulates your breasts to produce more milk.
Taking care of yourself will also help you to establish your milk supply. Eat right and get rest when you are able. Also, avoid bottle-feeding your baby breast milk until breastfeeding and milk supply are well established.
If a minor problem arises that does not quickly resolve, get prompt assistance from a breastfeeding specialist such as a lactation consultant or other doctor who is knowledgeable about breastfeeding issues. Quickly addressing breastfeeding issues helps solve problems and increases your likelihood of successful long-term breastfeeding. If possible, arrange to have a specialist visit you at home, or make plans to visit the specialist's office.
Have a list of resources available to call, such as:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah A. Marshall, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology
Current as ofNovember 21, 2017
Current as of:
November 21, 2017
Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology
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