FEATURE | Posted Nov. 13, 2013

Six tips for breastfeeding your newborn

Advice can assist first-time moms with challenges

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding protects against a variety of diseases and conditions in infant such as:

  • Bacteremia
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Otitis media
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Late-onset sepsis in preterm infants
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Lymphoma, leukemia, and Hodgkins disease
  • Childhood overweight and obesity

Breastfeeding also provides  maternal health benefits to mothers such as:

  • Decreased postpartum bleeding and more rapid uterine involution
  • Decreased menstrual blood loss and increased child spacing (lactational amenorrhea)
  • Earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight
  • Decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Mother nursing infant © iStockphoto
Breastfeeding provides benefits for both baby and mom.

We know that breast milk is best for babies, but for most first-time mothers, nursing success is a challenge.

Nearly all new mothers — 92 percent — had at least one breastfeeding problem three days after delivery, recent research by UC Davis Children’s Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found.

For over half the mothers in the study, their newborns did not nurse well. Other mothers said they had breastfeeding pain, or that they weren’t producing enough milk.

Those are some of the reasons why very few mothers — 13 percent —breastfeed exclusively for the six months recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

So what can first-time moms do to achieve their breastfeeding goals?

Internationally respected breastfeeding expert Caroline Chantry, a professor of pediatrics and study author, offered these tried-and-true tips to achieve breastfeeding success:

1. Before your baby is born, learn as much as you can. Learn about breastfeeding from classes at the hospital or the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, and experienced friends and family. WIC can also offer you a peer breastfeeding counselor.

2. Breastfeed your baby after birth early and often. Dress your baby only in a diaper before breastfeeding. New babies often feed better when there’s skin-to-skin contact. Cuddling your newborn skin-to-skin helps you and your baby in other ways, too. In those precious early days, designate a family member to be in charge of booting guests out the door. This is time to get to know your baby, and too many well-meaning visitors can exhaust both baby and mom.

3. Ask for help from the hospital staff. Nurses, doctors and lactation consultants want to help. Have them help make sure your baby is latched onto your breast well past the nipple to prevent nipple trauma.

4. Don't expect perfection at first! There is a learning curve for both mothers and babies with breastfeeding. It will get easier, particularly when the milk comes in.

5. Learn to interpret your baby's behavior. Early hunger cues are important to recognize, and crying is often not about hunger. Consider reading the UC Davis Human Lactation Center's blog on the Secrets of Baby Behavior

6. Most of all, enjoy your baby as much as possible. Make the most of this special time and bond with the newest member of your family!