by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
Here's What You'll Find Below:Breastfeed soon after birth
Rooming in -- good for baby, good for mom
Avoid artificial nipples
Nurse as long and as frequently as baby wants
Remember free formula samples are not gifts
Breastfeeding is the natural and normal way of feeding infants and young children, and human milk is the milk made specifically for human infants. Starting out right helps to ensure breastfeeding is a pleasant experience for both you and your baby. Breastfeeding should be easy and trouble free for most mothers.
The vast majority of mothers are perfectly capable of breastfeeding their babies exclusively for about six months. In fact, most mothers should be able to produce more than enough milk. Unfortunately, outdated hospital policies and routines based on bottle feeding still predominate in too many health care institutions and make breastfeeding difficult, even impossible, for too many mothers and babies. Too frequently also, these mothers blame themselves. For breastfeeding to be well and properly established, getting off to the best start from the first days can make all the difference in the world. Of course, even with a terrible start, many mothers and babies manage. And yes, many mothers just put the baby to the breast and it works just fine.
The basis of breastfeeding is getting the baby to latch on well. A baby who latches on well gets milk well. A baby who latches on poorly has more difficulty getting milk, especially if the milk supply is not abundant. The milk supply is not abundant in the first days after birth; this is normal, as nature intended, but if the baby's latch is not good, the baby has difficulty getting the milk. It is for this reason that so many mothers "don't have enough colostrum." The mothers almost always do have enough colostrum but the baby is not getting what is there. Babies don't need much milk in the first few days, but they need some.
Even if the mother's milk production is plentiful, trying to breastfeed a baby with a poor latch is similar to giving a baby a bottle with a nipple hole that is too small -- the bottle is full of milk, but the baby will not get much or will get it very slowly -- so the baby sucking at the breast may spend long periods on the breast or return to the breast frequently or not be happy at the breast, all of which may convince the mother she doesn't have enough milk, which is most often not true.