As pediatricians we encourage breastfeeding for at least the 1st year of life. It provides
nutritional, health and immune benefits. It is the natural way to feed a baby but it frequently
does NOT feel natural, especially at the beginning. Give yourself a little grace and don’t be
afraid to ask for help if needed. It’s hard work! And if it turns out that other ways of feeding are
needed temporarily or long term, you are not a failure! Just a few tips and thoughts to help:
Before the baby is born:
- If you can take a breastfeeding class either in person or online I would recommend it. If not at least try to find some videos to watch regarding how to latch and hold a baby while nursing.
- If you are able to get your pump beforehand, familiarize yourself with the parts and sterilize those parts that need to be cleaned. Having a clean bottle with a slow flow nipple ready to go is also a good idea just in case it is needed.
- Set up a comfortable nursing area – a comfy chair with good support for yourself (a recliner or
rocker is nice), a place to put your snacks and hydration and access to your phone charger.
- Other supplies to consider: nursing pads, nursing bras, nipple creams/balms, nursing pillow
After the baby is born:
- Unless there are medical reasons that prevent it, get that baby skin to skin and try to latch as
soon as possible.
- Newborns and young infants nurse 8-12 times per day on average but periods of cluster
feeding are normal. Try to offer both breasts with each feed.
- Nursing (or pumping) moms, remember to feed and hydrate yourself. Make water readily
available to yourself through the day and try to drink some each time your nurse/pump.
- Get rest when you can (easier said than done!). If you are nursing directly, only the
breastfeeding parent can do that feeding but you can then hand the baby off to your partner or
family in between feeds to try to get a little rest. Let others do the changing, washing, cleaning
If you’re worried things are not going well, it’s okay to ask for help. Talk to your pediatrician or
consult with a lactation specialist. Take advantage of the nurses and lactation support available
in the hospital. After discharge you can still contact lactation support or could seek out private