Many medical experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively (no formula, juice, or water) for 6 months. After the introduction of other foods, it recommends continuing to breastfeed through the baby’s first year of life.
Tips for New Breastfeeding Moms
Some things help you prepare for breastfeeding:
- Get regular prenatal care to help you avoid preterm birth.
- Tell your doctor you plan to breastfeed and ask what support the facility you plan to deliver in offers to help you breastfeed after birth.
- Take a breastfeeding class.
- Ask your doctor to connect you with a lactation consultant, who can teach you breastfeeding basics and help you if have issues.
- Talk to your doctor about any health conditions you have or medications you take that could interfere with breastfeeding.
- Tell your doctor and hospital health care providers that you want to breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery.
- Talk to friends who breastfeed or join a support group for breastfeeding.
- Stock up on the supplies you need for breastfeeding, such as nursing bras and other items.
These tips, called the ABCs of breastfeeding, will help you and your baby get comfortable with the process:
- Awareness. Watch for your baby’s signs of hunger, and breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry. This is called “on demand” feeding. The first few weeks, you may be nursing eight to 12 times every 24 hours. Hungry infants move their hands toward their mouths, make sucking noises or mouth movements, or move toward your breast. Don’t wait for your baby to cry. That’s a sign their too hungry.
- Be patient. Breastfeed as long as your baby wants to nurse each time. Don’t hurry your infant through feedings. Infants typically breastfeed for 10 to 20 minutes on each breast.
- Comfort. This is key. Relax while breastfeeding, and your milk is more likely to “let down” and flow. Get yourself comfortable with pillows as needed to support your arms, head, and neck, and a footrest to support your feet and legs before you begin to breastfeed.