Breastfeeding Basics

If you've decided to try breastfeeding, start as soon after your baby's birth as possible.

First, find a comfortable position for yourself. You can nurse your baby while lying on your side or sitting up. If you are lying down, cradle your newborn's head in your arm. If you are sitting, make sure your arms are supported. You can use a firm pillow to cushion and support the arm that is holding the baby. Try to stay warm and comfortable when you nurse. Your milk flows more easily if you are warm and relaxed.

Baby Doctor

The size of your breasts has nothing to do with the amount of milk you can produce. So don't fear that you might be inadequate just because your breasts are smaller than your sister's or your friend's.

Your baby feeds and digests better if she's not lying flat, so hold her up at a slight angle with her head resting in the crook of your arm and her back nestled along your forearm.

Remember, your baby has never done this before; you have to teach her what to do. Start by taking advantage of the rooting reflex . To get your baby to turn toward your breast, gently stroke her cheek with a finger or your nipple. When she turns, lift your breast and gently guide your nipple into her mouth. She'll know instinctively what to do next. As she sucks, make sure she takes most of your areola into her mouth. If she sucks on just the nipple, she won't get the milk she needs, and your breasts will soon be sore, sore, sore.

During the first few weeks, while your baby gets used to feeding from your breast, feed her as little as possible from a bottle. Formula (or breast milk) flows much more easily from a bottle than from your breast. (You may find this hard to believe once your milk starts flowing-and leaking onto your shirts.) Bottles may confuse your baby and make it more difficult for her to learn how to draw milk from your breast.

No Need to Count Calories


Try to alternate the breast that your baby feeds from first, because he is likely to suck longer on the first breast than the second. Use a safety pin on your bra strap as a reminder. Or start every morning with the same breast. Chances are, you'll know exactly how many times your baby has fed throughout the day, so it will be easy to remember with which breast to start (the first breast of the day at all odd feedings and the other breast at all even feedings).

At first, your baby nurses as often as every two hours or even more frequently. By the time he's two months old, though, he slows down to about once every four hours. He will, however, be eating more at each feeding than he did as a newborn.

Let your baby determine how much you feed him. Though you should switch breasts after 5 or 10 minutes, continue to feed him until he stops showing interest in sucking on the second breast.

Don't worry that you may run out of milk. Because your baby's sucking stimulates further milk production, your body makes as much as your baby needs. If he eats a lot, your breasts produce a lot. Only if your baby wets fewer than six diapers a day should you worry that you aren't producing enough milk or your child isn't eating enough.

When your baby has finished eating, release him from your breast by gently slipping a finger into the corner of his mouth. This action breaks the suction and makes it much easier-and a lot less painful-to slip your breast out of his mouth.

More on: Babies


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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