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  • Writer's pictureYour EmmaWell Team

Breastfeeding after Birth - Tips for a Smooth Start

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

If you have a baby on the way and are planning to breastfeed, it’s important to start strong to ensure long-term success. Donna Sinnott, IBCLC (affectionately known as “Boob Donna”), knows the stumbling blocks that breastfeeding moms often face out of the gate and understands intimately how to overcome them. Read on for some of Donna’s catchy, resourceful tips to make breastfeeding a positive experience for both you and your baby, starting from birth.

Setting Expectations

Instead of focusing on a far-off target like six months or a full year, set your sights on getting to the two-week mark after your baby’s delivery. By setting manageable, bite-sized goals, it’ll be easier to handle the transition to breastfeeding and new motherhood. Once you’ve overcome any feeding challenges and you’ve made it to two weeks, you can expand your goal to two months. Beyond that, you should feel proud of your accomplishment and capable of continuing your breastfeeding bond as long as you’d like.

“Any breastmilk for any period of time in the first 365 days is fabulous.”

The Magic Hour

Out of over 5,000 mammal species, the human baby is the most immature at birth and the least neurologically and physically developed. This is why immediately after childbirth, a newborn is placed on the mother’s chest above her heart, where the food and love is. The first hour after birth is referred to as the “magic hour”. As long as you are both medically stable, you should aim for immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Keeping your baby on your chest for this quiet “magic hour” stabilizes your baby’s breathing, temperature, and blood sugars and triggers in-born feeding reflexes.

Growing the Tiny Tank

Because a newborn’s stomach is so tiny (5-7ml at birth) and human milk is low in fat and protein compared to other mammals, frequent feedings are going to be necessary. In the first few days, try to breastfeed your baby for roughly 10-30 minutes on each side for practice, though at this point your baby won’t need much. In the first week, your goal should be to breastfeed at least eight times (every 2-3 hours) in a 24-hour period. As you fill up your baby’s tiny tank, it gradually grows and will be able to go for longer stretches between feedings.

Managing Supply and Demand

The first milk you produce, called colostrum, is a thick, yellow syrup that smells and tastes like your own amniotic fluid. Colostrum changes from teaspoons to ounces of mature milk around 72-96 hours postpartum. A drained breast produces more milk, whereas a full breast slows down production. Breastfeeding involves a natural balance of supply and demand dictated by your baby. If you have enough milk demand today, you’ll have enough supply for tomorrow.

Dinner Required, Dessert Optional

For each feeding, think of one breast as dinner and the other breast as an optional dessert. Some babies might breastfeed for 10-15 min, release one side, and want dessert from the other side, whereas other babies will be satisfied drinking from one side and saving the other for the next feeding. Either way, by the end of a 24-hour period, your baby will be getting a full day’s meal.

The Tip of the Nip on the Top of the Lip

Infants have an inborn trio of feeding reflexes. When they’re hungry and touch something resembling a food source, they will open their mouth wide, stick out their tongue over the gum line, and suck in, maintaining a latch. To achieve an effective latch, line up your baby’s nose with your nipple, tickle your baby’s lip with your nipple, and then wait for your baby’s wide mouth to latch (onto the nipple and areola). Donna helps new moms remember this with the mantra: “Put the tip of the nip on the top of the lip”.