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Breastfeeding - Getting Started

Breastfeeding is a natural way to feed your baby. It provides the best possible food for your baby. There are many health benefits for both you and the baby. It creates a special bond between mom and baby. Many moms and babies find it very easy to breastfeed. For others, it takes time, patience and practice. Below are some tips that all new moms can use to help breastfeeding get off to the best start. 

When in the hospital:

  1. Breastfeed your baby within one hour of birth.
  2. Do not give your baby any food or drink other than breast milk. Let the nurses in the hospital know your wishes.
  3. Have your baby stay in your room with you during your hospital stay.
  4. Do not give your baby a pacifier.
  5. Breastfeed your baby whenever he is hungry. Do not put your baby on a schedule or limit time spent on the breast.
  6. Ask for time with a breastfeeding specialist if you need help.

Starting to Feed

Relax and get comfortable. Sit up or lie in bed. Ask a nurse to help you start breastfeeding. Many mothers need some help at first.

Turn your baby’s whole body – face, tummy and knees – toward you. Bring your baby’s cheek close to your chest. Baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple. A pillow or folded blanket on your lap can support your arm and your baby.

Support your breast with your fingers below and your thumb above. Keep your hand behind the darker skin around the nipple. Lightly tickle your baby’s lower lip with your nipple. After a few tries, your baby will open wide, as if to yawn.

Quickly center your nipple in your baby’s mouth and bring baby’s body very close to you. About an inch of the darker skin around the nipple should be in your baby’s mouth. Your baby will latch on and begin to suck strongly. Baby’s nose and chin should touch the breast. Baby’s lips should be curled out, not tucked in. Sometimes it takes several tries to latch on well. If you need to, put your finger between your baby’s gums to help baby let go.

Ending the Feed

Babies suck actively, rest, then suck actively again. They let go as they feel full. Try burping your baby, and then offer the other breast. Let your nipples air dry for several minutes after each feeding to prevent soreness. Start one feeding on one breast and the next feeding on the other breast.

How often and how long do I feed my baby?

Newborns are hungry often. Their stomachs are small, about the size of a golf ball. They tell you they are hungry by:
· Sucking on their hands
· Rooting (opening their mouths wide and searching for milk), or
· Fussing

Most newborns feed 10 to 20 minutes on each breast every 1 ½ to 3 hours. Each baby is different, though. Some babies feed a short time and need coaxing to continue. Some babies feed happily for 20 minutes or more. Some babies breastfeed off and on for several hours and then take a long nap. Your baby needs 10 to 12 feedings each 24 hours.

Learn how to continue breastfeeding after you return to work or school.

Who to call for help

These early days are full of new experiences for you and your baby. During the first few weeks home, call someone who helps mother and babies with breastfeeding. Ask lots of questions to be sure breastfeeding is off to a good start.

Call a lactation consultant, health care provider, hospital nursery, La Leche League, or a WIC breastfeeding specialist if you need more information. You can also call Baby Your Baby at 1-800-826-9662 and ask to speak with a breastfeeding specialist.

Learn more from the Utah Breastfeeding Coalition