10 Steps to the Breast Start

10 Steps to the Breast Start

1. All you need is breast milk! 

  • Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life.
  • Breast milk is a wonderful gift to your baby that only you can provide.

2. Frequent breast feeds — not formula. 

  • It is important to remember that babies do not eat on a schedule, and breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis.
  • The more often you breastfeed, the more breast milk you make. If you give formula, your baby will feel too full to nurse frequently.

3. Feed early and often.

  • Feed early and often — at least 8 to 12 times per 24 hours.
  • Feed your baby on demand at the earliest signs of hunger.
  • Remember that crying is a late sign of hunger.

4. The early days.

  • Long-term success with breastfeeding greatly depends on what is done the first few weeks after you deliver.
  • A newborn needs very little breast milk for the first 3 to 4 days of life.
  • Your baby will get colostrum from your breast to meet this need.
  • Colostrum is the thick, golden “pre-milk” that offers many immunity benefits for your baby.
  • On average, you can expect your milk to transition from colostrum (thick, golden “early milk”) to mature milk by the third day after delivery.
  • Weight loss in your baby of up to 7 percent from birth weight is normal.
  • Your baby should regain his birth weight by 10 to 14 days of life.

5. Latching on “Chin-tobreast, chest-to-chest”

  • Remember, if your baby is latched on and sucking correctly, it is normal to feel a tugging sensation without painful pressure on your nipple.

6. Look and/or listen for swallows.

  • To help you know if your baby is getting breast milk, look for signs and/or listen for sounds of frequent swallowing or gulping while breastfeeding.

7. Watch your baby, not the clock.

  • Allow your baby to set the feeding pace and breastfeed until he is finished.

8. Just say ‘no” to pacifiers and bottles.

  • Unless you plan to pump and bottle feed only, you should avoid pacifiers and other artificial nipples for the first 4 to 8 weeks.
  • Giving bottles or pacifiers before this time can lead to “nipple preference” or “nipple/suck confusion.”
  • If pacifiers and/or bottles are used when your baby is hungry, it may be difficult for you to hear or see your baby’s feeding cues. As a result, you may not be nursing often enough to make enough milk to meet your baby’s needs.

9. Just say “no’ to supplemental formula unless…

  • Do not give formula or other supplements unless there is a medical reason (such as your baby having low blood sugar or if your breastmilk has not yet transitioned from colostrum to mature milk by days 5 to 7 after delivery).
  • Before supplementing your breast milk without a medical reason, discuss your decision with your baby’s doctor, lactation consultant and/or hospital nursing staff.

10. Ask for help — it’s worth it!

To give you and your baby the best chance at successful breastfeeding:

  • Ask your nurse for help while in the hospital.
  • Follow-up with your baby’s doctor as directed and/or with any concerns after you go home.
  • Call our Warmline at 225-924-8239 or refer to your breastfeeding guide for further guidance as needed.
  • Don’t wait too long to get the help you need to make breastfeeding easier.