Research has shown numerous benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and her infant. If you decide to breastfeed, here are some helpful tips to get you off to a good start.
The First Time You Breastfeed
The position that you use to breastfeed the first few times will depend on whether you had a vaginal delivery or a cesarean delivery. The nurse at the hospital can help you determine which position works best for you.
Once you are ready to begin, follow these steps from the American Academy of Family Physicians:
Important Tips for Breastfeeding
Before you give birth, try to learn as much about breastfeeding as possible. Here are some tips for successful breastfeeding:
Learning When to Breastfeed Your Baby
Human milk is more easily digested than formula. You can feed your baby as much as your baby wants.
Your baby may feed 8-12 times a day or more. Many newborns nurse as often as every two hours, regardless of whether it is day or night. Let your baby feed on demand—not on a strict schedule. Later, the baby will be able to hold more milk and go for longer times between feedings, settling into a more predictable pattern.
Signs That Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, signs that your baby is getting enough milk include:
Eating for Two
Most importantly, a breastfeeding mom needs to eat a well-balanced diet. You need to be eating fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, meats or beans, and milk and dairy foods.
It is essential that you get plenty of calcium. For a woman who is breastfeeding, the calcium recommendations are:
You will need to increase your overall calories—about 500 calories a day more than you usually consume. And it is important that you drink plenty of fluids while you breastfeed.
Generally speaking, anything you eat should be fine for your baby. If you do eat something that you think may be bothering your baby (foods cited by some mothers include garlic, onion, citrus, peanuts), simply remove it from your diet.
Caffeine and alcohol can get into your milk. It is a good idea to limit how much of these you consume. In addition, smoking cigarettes has been shown to cause a decrease in milk production for the mother. It also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as well as respiratory and ear infections in the baby.
And Last, But Not Least...
A nursing mother needs rest. Let the people around you help with the day-to-day activities so that you can have some down time. Try to get as much sleep as possible. Although it may seem like your new baby will never sleep through my night, it will eventually happen.
American Academy of Family Physicians
US Department of Health and Human Services Women's Health
Women's Health Matters
Breastfeeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated December 18, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.
Breastfeeding: hints to help you get off to a good start. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydocto... . Updated August 2010. Accessed December 27, 2012.
Calcium intake and supplementation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated November 2, 2012. Accessed December 27, 2012.
Learning to Breastfeed. US Department of Health and Human Services Women's Health website. Available at: http://womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/learning-to-breastfeed/. Updated August 1, 2010. Accessed December 27, 2012.
Medicine while breastfeeding. Love Your Baby website. Available at: http://www.loveyourbaby.com/medicine-while-breastfeeding.html . Accessed December 14, 2009.
Nutrition and Fitness. US Department of Health and Human Services Women's Health website. Available at: http://womenshealt.... Updated August 1, 2010. Accessed December 27, 2012.
Last reviewed December 2012 by Brian Randall, MD