Once you have made the decision to breastfeed, empower yourself with information about this special relationship between you and your baby. It is common for both new and experienced mothers to have questions and even apprehension about nursing their newborns. Knowing what to expect during the first few days can put your mind at ease and let you focus on and revel in the joy of your new baby.
Begin learning about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Find books or websites to learn about the process and talk to other moms about their experiences. Consider joining a local breastfeeding support group or seeking out prenatal classes that include information on nursing. You may also wish to bring your questions about breastfeeding to your health care professional or to a lactation consultant. Arming yourself with knowledge about breastfeeding can help you transition smoothly into this phase of your life.
Your breasts begin to produce colostrum before the mature milk comes in. Colostrum is rich in nutrients and contains antibodies to help keep your baby healthy. Many women worry about the amount of milk they produce during the first few days after childbirth, but newborns require very little to eat. Breastfeed your newborn every two to three hours around the clock. Frequent breastfeeding helps stimulate milk production, and your body will adjust to your baby's demand.
Hold your baby during breastfeeding in a position that is comfortable for both of you and that supports your baby's head. Common positions include the cradle hold and the football hold. Another option is to lie on your side. Establish a proper latch to ensure that your baby is drinking efficiently and to help prevent your discomfort. After about 20 minutes, burp your baby, then offer the second breast. Burp him once again after he finishes nursing on the second side.
When babies' nutritional needs have been satisfied, they show signs of contentedness. Infants who are getting enough to eat can sleep well and are alert during wakeful times. Within the first 24 hours after birth, babies should have one or two wet diapers. Although it is common for newborns to initially lose weight, babies who are eating enough begin to gain weight within a few days of being born. If you have concerns about your baby's breast milk intake, contact your health care provider.