Best Start To Breastfeeding

Getting breastfeeding off to a good start begins with preparing. Taking a prenatal breastfeeding course, sitting in on Le Leche League meetings and reading the latest breastfeeding books will give you knowledge and confidence. Though babies are hard wired to breastfeed, we need to know how to help them put their hardwiring to work.

Better Births For Better Breastfeeding

Numerous studies have confirmed that babies breastfeed better when the birth was as natural as possible. Medications taken during labor cross the placenta and reach the fetus. These medications may make your newborn sleepy and dull his reflexes. Other medical interventions may also impact the breastfeeding. For instance, vacuum deliveries that temporarily misshape the baby's head may make it uncomfortable for baby to latch on with his mouth wide open. Though these interventions may be inevitable it is best to prepare for a natural birth in preparation for breastfeeding.

Women should be able to eat, drink and move around during labor as they please. The mother should have continuous support during labor, such as by a doula who provides both physical and emotional support. A woman who feels good after birth is better able to care for her baby.

From Womb to Breast

Numerous studies attest to the importance of keeping mothers and babies together immediately after birth. Babies are normally very quiet and alert after birth, their reflexes, which enable them to find and latch on to the breast, are heightened. Mothers are especially receptive to their newborns at this time. Newborn babies should be toweled dried and placed skin to skin between their mother's breasts. Your baby will most likely initiate his first feed within the first hour. This first feed reinforces his breastfeeding instincts and works as a preventative for latch on and sucking problems.

Stay Together

Rooming in with your baby after birth will make breastfeeding easier for both of you. Your baby's early feeding cues are quiet and subtle. They will go unnoticed in a busy nursery. Crying is a late feeding cue and often makes it harder to nurse. Keep baby near you and nurse him on cue. Frequent nursing in the hospital will help prevent engorgement while ensuring a good milk supply. Keeping baby with you will prevent the nursery staff from giving him bottles or pacifiers, both of which interfere with baby's breastfeeding instincts. If breastfeeding is painful for you get professional help right away. The quicker you address a problem the easier it will be to fix.

Get Support

Now that you have got off to a great start breastfeeding your baby, having support will help you continue. If you do not have a network of breastfeeding friends or family, find out where your local mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group is and get involved.