So, You're About to Deliver:
8 Tips for Getting Started with Breastfeeding from Birth

So, you're just days away from delivering your LO, and you're curious about how to get started with breastfeeding from birth. Below are a few tips and recommendations to help calm down any anxiety you might be feeling.

Leverage (and bask in) that first Golden Hour

The first hour after birth is a beautiful and important time to help establish a great breastfeeding relationship between mom and baby. As part of your birth plan, make sure to include (and share with every professional and support person on your team) that you would like to breastfeed your baby. 

A newborn will want to feed soon after they are born. To facilitate that first feeding session, be firm with your team about how much time is spent away from your baby initially – you want that timeframe to be as short as possible.

Here's an overview of baby’s first hour:

6 minutes: Baby opens eyes
11 minutes: Baby massages the breast
12 minutes: Baby places their hand to their mouth
21 minutes: Baby begins to root (search for the breast)
27 minutes: Baby's tongue stretches 
80 minutes: Breastfeeding begins

(Source: Lactation Education Resources)

Personal Note:

When my baby girl was born, I asked that she be placed on my belly straight out of the womb with minimal wiping down (the vernix coat helps protect a new baby from the new atmospheric elements), and to let me hold her for her first hour of life. 

Once she was born, my midwife placed her on my belly initially while we waited for the last few pulses from the umbilical cord. After the cord was cut, they quickly weighed her, gave her a vitamin K shot, and then returned her to me for Golden Hour.

Rooming-in and Skin-to-Skin time is crucial

Try to hold your baby with no material between your bodies as often as possible. Skin-to-skin time helps to not only balance a new baby's blood sugar and body temperature, but it also comforts the baby (they can hear your heartbeat, see your face and smell your unique scent). If you are not up to it, or if you want to share all the goodness with your support person, know that anyone can hold the baby skin-to-skin for similar results.

Watch for feeding cues

Once your baby begins to cry from hunger, it means you might have missed their feeding cues. Here is a list of cues to watch out for in the order they generally occur:

  • Opening mouth, making sucking noises
  • Sucking on fists 
  • Rooting: rubbing head into your chest and opening mouth
  • Wiggling to get into a breastfeeding position; turning head side-to-side
  • Crying

Other things to Know

  • Newborns nurse a minimum of 8-12 times every 24 hours. That can translate to feeding every 2-3 hours. You can time this by noting the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next.
  • Some moms will massage baby's back after nursing them in gentle circles between switching sides to comfort baby and ensure they are in a receptive state. 
  • If you decide to use a bottle, make sure to use a slow flow nipple and the pace feeding method to replicate the breastfeeding experience. This will help switching between bottles and feeding at the breast a little more seamless.
  • Although implied, feeding by bottle does not always mean formula feeding. This fact did not click for me until I pumped breastmilk and then fed it to my baby girl by bottle. Seems like a no-brainer, but wanted to make it clear here!

Queen & Baby Recommendations

I created a guide with my favorite products, people, and resources to help you get started on your postpartum journey. This is a resource I wished I had when I was preparing in my last weeks of pregnancy. I hope you find it useful.

Download the Guide Now

About the author

Shannan Clarke is a certified lactation consultant, a proud mother of two breastfed babies, and founder & CEO of Queen & Baby.

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