Some little-known gold nuggets for breastfeeding in the first days (you may wish to print this and stick it on the fridge or by your feeding-nest):

  • Breastfeeding may take practise but is designed to work
  • Watch for feeding cues* and offer breast.  Crying is considered a late sign of a stressed babe.
  • Offer one cue, then pause to let babe work it out.  E.g. nipple to baby’s lips, then pause for 5 seconds to allow babe to sort out latch.  If she needs another cue, then give on, pause, and repeat if needed.  Baby is learning too.
  • Babies rest/pause with eyes closed.  If babe stops sucking but stays on breast, let him rest and resume feeding.  He’s likely not actually sleeping, so don’t take him off.  (Sleep test – lift and drop arm.  Sleeping baby’s arm will fall; wake baby’s arm will respond.)
  • You should feel a tug or pull, but no pinching.  Avoid the temptation to feed through a bad latch, no matter how demanding baby is.  Not even once!!  Break the seal (insert pinkie into babe’s mouth) and start again.  Even if it takes 10 tries.
  • Don’t hold baby’s head while feeding.  It may be sore from birth.  Sore or not, the stimulation causes baby to pull back from breast.  Hold head by putting hand on bones at top of neck if necessary.
  • Don’t “pet”, rub, stroke babe while feeding.  Holding and feeding baby is an act of big love in and of itself.  (Imagine if you were trying to enjoy a fine meal, and someone was petting and rubbing you all over.  Ok that might be fun, but not conducive to eating.)
  • After 3-6 weeks the effort of breastfeeding becomes way less than the effort of formula.  Keep going – it gets easier and is worth the early efforts.

Best Start has an excellent 1 page chart for the first days –  feeding guidelines, newborn stomach size, diapers and other info.  Print this!

* Here’s a great graphic to help you identify visual feeding cues.