These are some of the most common questions we get about breastfeeding.
Most moms start breastfeeding within the first hour after birth. Most hospitals will encourage this, in fact, and have you hold your baby directly against your bare skin (called “skin-to-skin” contact) soon after birth to promote breastfeeding.
This is another reason that promoting skin-to-skin contact is so important; holding your baby directly to your bare skin will trigger his or her reflexes to latch on to your breast. Cup your breast in your hand and position your baby’s mouth at your nipple to encourage your baby to open his or her mouth wide. Pull your baby closer, aiming the nipple toward the roof of the baby’s mouth. For more tips on how to position your baby when breastfeeding, check out this article.
Exclusively breastfeeding your baby is widely recommended for the first 6 months of your baby’s life. Breastfeeding may continue up to the baby’s first birthday as you start to introduce new foods. You can continue to breastfeed your baby after his or her first birthday if you think that is best for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding is good for both mama and baby and here’s why:
When most babies are hungry they will look alter, close their fists, bend their arms, and bring their fingers to their mouths. Crying is a late sign of hunger and by then, the baby may have a harder time latching on. When babies are full, they will typically relax their arms and legs and close their eyes.
You can allow your baby to set his or own schedule. On average, most babies feed 8-12 times in a 24-hour span which means they’re eating at least every 2-3 hours (this time is measured from the start of one feeding to the start of the next). Many newborns will feed for 10-15 minutes on each breast but some will nurse for much longer periods, even up to 2 hours. When your baby releases one breast, offer the other and if or she shows no interest, plan to start on that side for the next feeding.
While breastfeeding is a perfectly natural process, it can take time for new moms and their babies to learn. If you are having trouble breastfeeding, there are plenty of resources available starting with lactation consultants available at the hospital. They can give you advice if you run into challenges or show you alternative positions to try.
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