"Anyone can learn to breastfeed,” says Tammy Kowalik, a Registered Nurse and internationally board certified lactation consultant at Mercy Hospital.
Getting off to a positive start begins at the hospital. While you’re recovering, here’s what you can do to make breastfeeding as easy as possible for both you and baby.
Minimize DistractionsHaving a baby is an exciting time for you and your family. However, the distractions of visitors, cell phones or picture-taking can prevent you from breastfeeding.
Ask visitors to step out of your room at feeding time, so that you can be free of distractions.
Keep Your Baby CloseKeep your baby with you as much as possible rather than sending him or her to the nursery. With the baby in the room, you can see his or her feeding cues and be ready to breastfeed when needed.
Tina Zbytek, a Registered Nurse and lactation consultant at Sisters Hospital, says that moms should expect to feed their babies about 8 to 12 times a day, every 2 to 3 hours. “Your baby will pull away when he or she is full,” she says.
Night time is one of the peek times for breastfeeding.
“Babies are usually more awake, and mom’s prolactin level – a hormone that helps to make breast milk – rises during the night,” says Tammy.
Breastfeed Within 1-2 Hours After BirthYour baby’s suckling instinct is strongest in the hours after his or her birth.
“Put your baby to breast as soon as possible after delivery,” says Alayne Danzer, a Registered Nurse and internationally board certified lactation consultant at Mercy Hospital. “I call this first nursing experience a meet-and-greet. I am just looking for the new mother to have some private time skin-to-skin with her new baby.”
Avoid Using FormulaEveryone knows that having a baby is exhausting, and it can be tempting to use formula, especially when you’re tired. But formula can confuse for your baby. There are mechanical differences in how a baby gets milk from a bottle as opposed to a breast. If given a bottle, your baby may become confused or frustrated when feeding or refuse the breast altogether.
To prevent nipple confusion, avoid artificial nipples within the first three to four weeks of your baby’s life.
Be Patient“Breastfeeding is a learned behavior, and it may take several feedings for mom and baby to get proficient with nursing,” says Alayne.
Breastfeeding becomes easier the longer you do it. A week or two may pass before you feel completely confident nursing your baby.
After you leave the hospital, plan to breastfeed for as long as you can. “Between 6 to 9 months is the optimal time to introduce solids to complement mother’s milk,” says Tammy.
Speak to your pediatrician about when solid foods should be introduced and watch your baby, noting his or her developmental milestones for cues.
Catholic Health’s maternity hospitals, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo and Sisters of Charity Hospital, are both equipped to support breastfeeding moms. Lactation consultants and nurses are available to assist breastfeeding moms. Lactation consultants also teach breastfeeding classes. Click here to learn more about the breastfeeding resources available to you.