Discuss your decision to breastfeed with your family and doctor before delivery. At the hospital, remind the staff of your decision. Try to breastfeed your baby soon after delivery – about 20 to 30 minutes. The first feeding may be as short as 10 minutes.
• Breastfeed your baby when he or she is hungry. You will know they are hungry when they are fully awake and active, turn their head toward your breast and “mouth.” Do not worry about spoiling your baby. They will eventually develop a schedule. Crying is a late sign of hunger and may cause your baby to be too fussy to eat.
• Plan to breastfeed frequently during the first month – about 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. During the first week, have your baby nurse at each of your breasts for about 5 minutes to help start your milk. Your baby’s stomach is small – about the size of their fist. It can only hold about 1 tablespoon.
• Your baby will give you signs of hunger. If you baby is moving his hands towards his mouth, making noises with his mouth or clenching his fits, he may be trying to tell you he is hungry.
• Your baby will give you signs of fullness. If your baby is moving his head away from your breast or closing his mouth tight, he may full.
• Relax while you are breastfeeding. Try to drink a glass of water. Have a comfortable chair or use pillows to help you support the baby. Hold your baby’s belly next to yours. The baby’s head should be level with your breast nipple. Squeeze the dark area of the breast with your fingers so the nipple protrudes. Stroke baby’s lips with the nipple. Make sure your baby has most of the dark area around the nipple in his or her mouth.
• Your baby will have growth spurts, which will make him or her want to eat more often for a while. This is normal and will make your breasts produce more milk.
• As your baby gets older, breastfeed 10 to 15 minutes on the first breast to be sure it is emptied. The last amount of milk from each breast has more fat and will help baby feel full longer. As long as there is no tenderness, nurse as long as your baby wants on the second breast. Begin the next feeding with the last breast used.
• Trust your baby to know when he or she has had enough to eat. When full, he or she may close their lips, turn away from the breast or fall asleep.
• To stop feeding, release suction. Place your finger near the nipple and press the breast away from the corner of your baby’s mouth.
• Cover your nipples with a clean cloth or nursing pads between nursing to soak up any milk that leaks from the breast.
• You may want to burp your baby when switching breasts. Hold your baby upright over your shoulder or lay him or her on their tummy over your lap. Gently pat or rub your baby’s back. It is normal for babies to spit up a little breastmilk when burping. Have a clean cloth ready.
• If your nipples or breasts become sore, call your nurse or doctor immediately, but continue to breastfeed. If your baby is having trouble latching or having other breastfeeding problems, contact a lactation consultant.
• Check with your baby’s doctor about vitamin and mineral supplements, especially iron and fluoride. Breastfeeding mothers should continue to take prenatal vitamins.
American Academy of Physician Assistants, International Food Information Council Foundation. Healthy Eating During Pregnancy. October 2008.
Mohrbacher N, Stock J. The Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition. Schaumburg IL: La Leche League International, 2003.
United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Tips for Breastfeeding Moms. 2016.
Deana Hildebrand, PhD., RD,LD, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist
Christine Walters, RDN, LD, MS, Extension Program Assistant
Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
Nutritional Sciences Department, Oklahoma State University